The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) launched a campaign on Monday for the reinstatement of 305 Turkish Airlines (THY) workers sacked when they protested against the bringing in of a legal amendment that would totally remove their right to strike – despite the country already having highly repressive anti-union laws.
The ITF campaign has mobilised international support for the workers and their trade union, Hava-Is – as can be seen at the campaign website www.reinstate305.org.
ITF general secretary David Cockroft and ITF president Paddy Crumlin, along with Sharon James of the ITF’s civil aviation section and representatives of Britain’s Unite union, yesterday met with officials at the Turkish embassy in London.
David Cockroft reported: “The meeting was positive and we hope that the Turkish government will now redouble its efforts to find a resolution to this dispute. Nevertheless, we have made it clear that if Turkey and its national airline don’t act to reinstate these workers and cease attacking trade unions they risk a coordinated international campaign by the world’s aviation workers against Turkish Airlines.”
Paddy Crumlin commented: “This continued intransigence seems increasingly likely to damage the image of the country and the airline’s brand. It is simply incompatible with the government’s European aspirations and its assurances when declaring its UN Security Council candidacy for 2015 – 2016 that it is working for ‘fundamental principles and values such as human rights, democracy and rule of law’*”.
He continued: “We would prefer to work with good employers to establish best practice in the industry, but when this kind of victimisation happens we have no choice but to act. As a leading player in the Star Alliance, we expect Turkish Airlines to behave like a world-class airline and to respect labour rights.”
ITF member unions have also arranged meetings with Turkish embassies in Brazil, Ethiopia, Poland, Thailand and the USA for this week, with more being requested in other countries. Meetings have already taken place in Canberra and Washington.
Meanwhile, in London members of the Day-Me Turkish-Kurdish Community Centre are planning a demonstration outside the Turkish Airlines office in the capital in support of Hava-is.
Adding to the pressure, MEPs Evelyn Regner, of the Austrian Social Democratic Party and Jutta Steinruck of the German Social Democratic Party have raised the matter in the European Parliament.