ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Public workers' labor unions are rallying opposition leaders after the government's announcement last weekend of pay raises for civil servants.
The general 8.4 percent raise was not enough to create satisfaction among the biggest labor unions. Turkish Public Workers' Labor Union, or Kamu-sen, Chairman Bircan Akyıldız paid a visit to opposition Democratic Left Party, or DSP, Chairman Zeki Sezer yesterday to secure his backing.
Akyıldız expressed his satisfaction with the DSP, which he claimed was always an active supporter of trade unions. The government received less praise from Akyıldız, who underlined that public workers did not receive a satisfactory share of the national wealth. �GDP per capita in Turkey has reached $9,500, but the public workers' share remains at $2,150. No one should think we are calm. Politicians must see the storms and laments behind this silence,� he said.
Sezer in turn praised Kamu-sen's advocacy for workers' rights and noted that the real incomes of public workers have been in steady decline for the last six years. �I wish that the pay raise deserved by public workers will be made possible through collective negotiations. But the real matter is to proceed to a collective agreement,� Sezer maintained.
The Public Employers Board is always unprepared for talks, Akyıldız stressed, and denied that the union's demands were unrealistic. �Fiscal year 2008 amounted to YTL 48.6 billion, whereas in 2009 the total was YTL 56.3 billion. We try to shape our demands in line with this 16 percent increase. We doubt that bureaucrats and politicians will take a clear stance. We are thus basing our demands on three alternatives,� Akyıldız said.
�EU silent on worker rights'
Sezer claimed that Turkey's economic structure functions against the interests of workers and predicted a crash for �the system desired to be financed with warm capital flow.�
�It is not intelligible for the European Union to impose its views on every topic but International Labor Organization.� The decree on additional payment is a blow to workers' rights, said Sezer.
Akyıdız joined him by arguing that the only obstacle to the right for collective agreement and strike for public workers is the political authority.
Akyıldız later visited main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, headquarters to meet with its deputy leader, Cevdet Selvi. Selvi pointed out that labor union members have very limited means to protect their rights without a right to strike. Selvi said his party would support legal and democratic protests, when asked whether his union would support Kamu-sen in an eventual demonstration.
Union groups get DSP backing
The Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, or KESK, Chairman Sami Evren joined in his colleagues' efforts and paid a visit to Sezer yesterday. He noted that the current law on public workers' trade unions does not protect their rights. �The European Court of Human Rights has decisions on granting mass negotiations rights to public workers. Government must pass laws according to these rulings,� Evren stressed.
�The democratic culture of the government is weak and it seeks refuge in the law. KESK deems inappropriate the mockery of public workers by the government and denies surrendering to AKP government's will,� Evren said.
The DSP's Sezer disputed inflation rates announced by Turkish Statistical Institute, or TÜİK, and put the figure at 30 percent. Sezer stressed that the new increases should have covered all workers and retirees as well. The DSP leader also promised support for KESK.