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Turkey: trade unions, crisis, repression

Robert Maisey
Former policy and campaigns support officer, International dept
Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
Key findings

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This document updates the 2020 TUC briefing the worsening situation for workers in Turkey.

The briefing reports on:

  • The economic crisis in Turkey, including the impacts of Covid-19, hyperinflation, and the 2023 earthquake.
  • The trade union landscape, outlining the formal legal regime for unions, and the areas of higher and lower trade union density.
  • Anti-union measures, a more detailed description of how employers and government collude to impede effective trade union organising. This includes a description of anti-union laws, strike bans, and indirect anti-union measures, for examples the judicial harassment and imprisonment of union activists and leaders.
  • Conflict and political repression, with reference to the conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish separatists, attacks on the media, repression of democratic opposition, and erosion of women's rights.

The briefing also includes recommendations to the British government:

  • Oppose the Turkish government’s war on the Kurdish population in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and help restart the abandoned peace process with the PKK.
  • Support the release imprisoned Kurdish political leader Abdullah Öcalan so that he can play a full role in the peace process.
  • Oppose the persecution of trade unionists and support the reinstatement of trade unionists suspended or dismissed in the wake of the failed 2016 coup.
  • Instruct the British embassy to send trial observers to all hearings against trade unionists.
  • Not to engage in negotiations for a free trade agreement while abuses of human rights, labour rights, and restrictions on trade union freedom are taking place, and for any future trade agreement with Turkey to have enforceable labour protections.
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