Friday, January 26, 2018

Turkey: Erdogan's AKP government bans metalworkers strike as a "threat to the national security"

According to a soL international report, Turkey's AKP government has banned a strike in Turkey’s metal sector, citing national security. 

The government decree, signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, considers the metalworkers' mass strike as a "threat to the national security of Turkey".

Metal workers, rejecting Turkey's pro-capitalist Metal Industrialists Union (MESS)’s unacceptable offer that includes a 3-year validity period for its contract and a 6.4% wage increase, have decided to go on strike on February 2, 2018.

The cabinet was given the right to suspend and delay strikes with a law approved in the aftermath of the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup. In 2012, Turkish AKP government adopted a "new" trade union act numbered 6356. But it merely incorporated old provisions and kept to amend strike suspension mechanisms.


The decree was based on Article 63 of Act 6356 which allows the government to suspend any strike for 60 days if it is considered a danger to "national security" and "public health". The decree is followed by a 60-day 'postponement period' for negotiations, where the parties have to agree. In practice, this means that there is no chance to continue the strike after the 60-day period.

Workers affiliated the United Metal Workers’ Union (Birleşik Metal-İŞ) went on a 1-hour token strike in certain factories on January 23. 8000 workers participated in token strikes in 30 factories on January 23.

From its side, the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) has responded to the AKP government banning the strike of metal workers commencing on February 2, one week before the start of the strike.

"The country is under threat of the government which has sent its army to the expedition in Syrian lands along with jihadist gangs. The country is under threat due to the American bases which were converted into nuclear arsenals and the membership to the war organisation NATO. The country is under threat due to the profit greed of bosses who can risk everything. Metal workers will see this threat and lay claim to both their right to strike and the homeland," said the TKP in a statement titled "Government of bosses in charge!"

The TKP drew attention to the close relation between the AKP government and the capitalist class, remarking "Thus, the government has fulfilled the instruction of the bosses once again. Now the metal bosses who think that they have eliminated a risk of the strike will continue imposing on workers the wages below the poverty line and flexible working. The government tells the workers whose right to strike has been revoked to 'accept whatever the bosses give.'"

"This is not the first ban. The AKP has announced 13 strike banning decisions since the day it came into power. With these decisions, striking right of 62 thousand workers was seized. 130 thousand more workers have been added to this number with the latest ban," read the TKP statement and continued underlying the use of strike bans as a capitalist oppression: "We know that strike bans are a tool of oppression over workers which the capitalist system can never abandon. Not only the AKP but every boss government that has ruled the country to date didn’t abstain from banning strikes."

The TKP also emphasised the "national security" narrative of the government in strike bans: "And the excuse for strike bans has always been 'national security.' The current government, too, showed the same reason when banning the strike of metal workers. Now the capitalist organisations and company unions whose primary mission is to keep workers under control will join in this choir. They will start a demagogy that 'national security comes first' with one voice."