PRISON SENTENCES FOR OUR ANKARA BRANCH OFFICIALS
14 Ankara Branch officials including the branch president Nurettin Kılıçdoğan received prison sentences ranging from 1.5 years to 6.5 years for the reason of recruiting new members. 6 of our branch officials are now in prison!
Ankara Branch officials received heavy prison sentences as a result of the lawsuit that was filed with the employer’s complaint. Their crimes include “increasing the monthly income of the union by increasing the number of members” and “obstructing the freedom of conducting business and freedom of labour” at a workplace which was closed for holiday on the mentioned date.
These accusations against our branch officials and members have no rationale or legal basis. The trade unionists were punished for fulfilling their duties as unionists and recruiting new members for a legal union.
The judges of the Ankara 11. Special Assize Court were ostracised from profession on the grounds that they were members of the “Gulen movement”. This demonstrates that these decisions aren’t legitimate and they are questionable. According to the provisions of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code the decisions of judges who are proven to be faulty while performing their duties are null and void. For this reason TÜMTİS applied for retrial.
In our opinion these decisions don’t only concern TÜMTİS. They are targeting trade union rights and freedoms hence the working class. These decisions were deemed unacceptable by our sister unions and colleagues.
TÜMTİS’ and our sister unions’ demand is that these irrationale, unfair and remorseless decisions must be corrected through a new trial. The arrested union officials and members must be released immediately and their families mustn’t be victimised any further.
Punishing trade unionists and member workers means that trade union rights and freedoms are banned in Turkey.
The right of the workers to form trade unions and become members of a trade union in order to protect their rights and improve their conditions is clearly defined in international human rights conventions and guaranteed by our Constitution. TÜMTİS considers this violation of the right of organisation as unacceptable.
TÜMTİS which was founded in 1949 is an affiliate of Türk-İş, ITF and ETF and a respectable member of the international trade union community.
We call on trade unions in Turkey and abroad to stand in solidarity with us against these unfair prison sentences.
Protests against the prison sentences and messages of solidarity
There has been a number of protests against the prison sentences handed down to 14 TÜMTİS leaders. Labour, occupational and non-governmental organisations informed our union of their support. The summary of the solidarity statements is as follows:
“We wish to strongly protest at your government’s continuing moves to stifle free and democratic trade unionism in Turkey. These include the treatment of fourteen members of the ITF-affiliated TÜMTİS trade union’s Ankara branch who were targeted in dawn raids in 2007 following a complaint by a logistics company where the union had just completed a successful organisation drive. As you will know these men were given prison sentences in 2012.
TÜMTİS and the ITF appealed against those verdicts, but despite international protests and all the evidence of abuse of process – in breach of international law – the appeal court has just upheld the sentences. We the ITF are therefore demanding that the politically-motivated convictions against these colleagues are overturned.”
Our national confederation Türk-İş considers this decision as a blow to trade union organising and states the following in its press release:
“The activities of the TÜMTİS Ankara Branch officials which were the subject matter of the lawsuit fall under activities for protecting and improving workers’ rights and benefits.
It’s unacceptable that trade union organising is subject to a lawsuit because of a company’s complaint and branch officials are punished with prison sentences. This incident shouldn’t occur in a democratic country. This is a blow to the organising activity of trade unions. Union activites which are guaranteed by the constitution can not be viewed as crimes. Otherwise union organising will be much more difficult.”
Tekgıda-İş: Trade unions are legal organisations, not criminal organisations!
Petrol-İş: The prison sentences given to TÜMTİS officials and members are unacceptable. Organising is a constitutional right.
Belediye-İş: Trade union activities aren’t crimes and can’t be punished.
Kristal-İş: Trade union activities aren’t crimes, they can’t be punished!
Yol-İş: TÜMTİS leaders and members were given prison sentences – Trade union organising is being prevented!
Şeker-İş: Trade union rights and freedoms can’t be punished.
Deriteks: Trade union activites aren’t crimes! We are calling for solidarity with TÜMTİS!
Basın-İş: The prison sentences given to TÜMTİS Ankara branch officials for trade union activities are unacceptable! Trade union activities are guaranteed by our constitution, they aren’t crimes!
Güvenlik-İş: Trade union organising can’t be prevented!
TGS: This decision is an open threat to all workers.
DİSK/ Birleşik Metal-İş: The prison sentences given to union officials are a blow to trade union activities.
Liman-İş: This decision not only targets TÜMTİS and its members, but the entire working class and its historical struggle.
DADDER: Overturn the convictions of TÜMTİS leaders!
Organising at UPS and DHL
As many of you might remember, TÜMTİS has conducted successful organising campaigns in the past. We concluded our organising campaign at UPS which is an international delivery company and signed a collective bargaining agreement in 2011. This organising campaign was difficult; the employer dismissed union members. We resisted in front of the company for 272 days in order to make the employer reinstate the dismissed workers. Thanks to our union’s determined attitude and the support of the international trade union movement, our campaign reached success. Tümtis maintains its gains at this workplace.
TÜMTİS also achieved success at the end of the Deutsche Post DHL Turkey campaign. After the employer dismissed workers and brought in a yellow union to divide the workers, resistance started in front of the workplace and went on for 476 days. Despite the difficult process our union and the workers won the lawsuit and signed a successful CBA, giving workers job security.
Organising at Aras Kargo
Our union’s goal is to organise widely in the freight delivery industry. TÜMTİS has organised new workplaces in line with this goal.
TÜMTİS conducted an organising campaign at Aras Kargo which is a leader in the national and international delivery sector and received recognition after recruiting the majority of workers as a legal requirement. The legal process at Aras Kargo is still continuing.
TÜMTİS keeps on fighting to protect and improve rights and benefits of its members and workers in its sector.
Legal Process at DHL Express
TÜMTİS started an organising campaign at Deutsche Post DHL’s division DHL Express, a delivery and logistics company. We received the official recognition after organising the majority of workers; 834 members in total. However, the employer took advantage of the legal gaps and objected to the determination of majority. Our member Sinan Tursun was dismissed because of “becoming a member of a trade union and participating in trade union activities.”
The objection of DHL Express is a legal scandal. DHL Express explained its reason for objecting as “the data regarding the number of unionised members isn’t reliable”
In the document of objection it is indicated that “because the membership forms weren’t examined by the client company, we do not know whether the people in question work at the company or whether their memberships are valid”.
However, workers become trade union members through the e-state system in accordance with Act No 6356. This secure system uses the database of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
We consider this objection as a tactic to prolong the CBA process. This attitude is also an attempt to prevent workers’ right to organise. Mobbing and pressure on the members to make them resign from the union is still continuing.
The company also violates the protocol signed by DHL, UNI Global Union and ITF which includes respect to the right of the workers the unionise. TÜMTİS continues the legal struggle, invites DP DHL to abide by this protocol and respect the workers’ right to unionise and sign a CBA. Our union also calls on national and international trade unions to take action and develop the solidarity.