Turkish Airlines Chairman Urged Step In Over 305 Sackings
6 August 2012
ITF Urges Turkish Airlines Chairman To Step In Over 305 Sacked Workers
In a strongly worded letter today (6 August) ITF general secretary David Cockroft urged Hamdi Topçu, Turkish Airlines’ Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Executive Committee, to take personal responsibility for opening talks to try and resolve the dispute between management and the Hava-Is union.
The dispute centres on the sacking by email, text and phone by Turkish Airlines of 305 union members at the end of May this year.
In his letter, Cockroft pointed out that talks so far between the ITF and representatives of the Turkish government in Geneva and London to resolve the dispute had stalled, “apparently due to the lack of willingness on the part of the Turkish Airlines’ management to find a mutually acceptable solution”.
He stressed ITF’s willingness to help find a solution and warned that the situation was almost certain to escalate considerably, especially globally, if there was no positive sign from the company very soon.
Cockroft said: “The company’s behaviour is utterly at odds with its ambitions to be a European and global leader, and is perceived by transport unions and others worldwide as unreasonable and unnecessary.
“Extreme measures were taken by Turkish Airlines against men and women who were simply protesting against a proposal that runs contrary to ILO Convention 87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organise, to which Turkey is a signatory.
“These circumstances have also won a lot of international sympathy and support for the dismissed workers and Hava-Is, and led to strong criticism of Turkish Airlines. The weight of this opinion has led the ITF to launch a global campaign to seek the reinstatement of the 305 and to support Hava-Is’ efforts to overturn the recent ban on strikes in the aviation sector, which is also seen as having been motivated by the company.
“ITF and its affiliates would prefer to work with good employers to establish best practice in the aviation industry, and to address the huge challenges we face, including ensuring safety, security and responding to competition from low-cost carriers.
“This dispute has already dragged on for over two months. The management of Turkish Airlines has nothing to lose and everything to gain by participating in a dialogue in good faith, with a view to finding a favourable outcome.”
In conclusion, Cockroft said: “We urge you personally to take charge of the situation now and to show the leadership and management skills that are required to achieve an equitable and positive result. Such action would certainly enhance the company’s reputation and would be welcomed by the ITF and its affiliates.”
The ITF and UNI Global Union are also trying to facilitate talks to resolve the dispute between DHL Turkey and Tumtis, the union representing 24 workers sacked from several warehouses under the apparent pretext of unsatisfactory performance but what appears to be anti-union action. The ITF has been told that local DHL managers have been personally speaking to employees, threatening them with the sack if they do not resign from Tumtis. Dismissed workers are currently standing outside of the warehouses in an act of resistance over their alleged unfair dismissal.
Notes to editors:
1. The 305 Turkish Airlines (THY) workers sacked when they protested against the amendment to national legislation rushed through in May 2012 which meant that aviation workers in Turkey could no longer take strike action. This came on top of Turkey’s already repressive anti-union laws.
2. The campaign has mobilised international support for the workers and their trade union, Hava-Is. More information is available on the campaign website www.reinstate305.org
3. These sackings are just the latest in a spate of attacks against trade unions and their members in Turkey. The global union movement campaigns vigorously on each occurrence; most recently, seeking the release of 71 labour activists and leaders who were arrested on 25 June 2012 across 20 cities, a number of whom remain in jail.