Translated from Turkish by Translators for justice
The answer to the question why the AKP government, who has not called for an Employment Assembly in the last 9 years, only considers sympathetic unions as partners and prefers monologue to dialogue, has finally organised the 10th Employment Assembly, clearly lies both in the agenda of the meeting and in the discussions which have prevailed in recent days.
The AKP aims at preparing public opinion and grounds for its assault on labour and employment conditions. The 10th Employment Assembly was clearly a kind of PR attempt to realise this aim.
As is publicly known, three main issues were on the agenda of the 10th Employment Assembly, comprising regulations regarding severance benefit, subcontracting and organising temporary work (labour rental) through Private Temporary Employment Offices. Another key issue at the meeting was the Prime Minister’s opening speech exhorting workers and civil servants “to unite under the banner of “employees.”
We have no doubt that the AKP is preparing a comprehensive assault on labour conditions. This assault, imposed via gradual changes and already partially implemented, will be fully realised by the changes proposed on the above mentioned issues.
Our Confederation has never opposed unification of all labour groups under the general term of “Employees;” on the contrary we have been fighting for this, for years. We are ready, if the AKP accepts a system in which wages and salaries of all employees are assured by Constitutional protection and all obstacles hindering collective bargaining and organisational rights are lifted. However, we are aware that by including these issues on the agenda, the AKP is aiming at establishing just the contrary measures, which will bring job insecurity, will restrict even more the existing precarious organisational rights and privilege individual job contracts rather than collective bargaining. What has been done in labour conditions in the last 10 years stands as proof of this fact. The government wants to establish equality among all employees, not in higher living standards, which would allow employees to live in dignity, but in poverty and in job insecurity. As a consequence, subcontracting and temporary contractual work have become the norm, excluding employees from the benefits of collective bargaining. Not only have those obstacles impeding organisational rights been lifted, there has also been a persistent increase in breaches of trade union rights.
The defender of capital, the AKP wants to destroy the job security of civil servants which remains as the single biggest obstacle in the way of flexible and contractual work. The AKP, by suggesting the unification of all labour groups under the banner of “Employees,” wants to extend flexible and insecure working conditions to all employees and aims to manage the state as a company and govern the people like a boss.
The Result Declaration at the 10th Assembly has proved that the AKP government is by no means interested in taking into account the demands and proposals of the workers and does not want nor aim to establish a dialogue and consensus between parties. The AKP government wants to gain legitimacy and grounds for their anti-labour law assaults. The Result Declaration, prepared before the Assembly, also proves this fact because all the criticisms and demands put forward by workers’ organisations during the two days of the Employment Assembly were completely ignored in this declaration. Not only was the opposition to severance payment being collected in a fund, expansion of subcontracting possibilities and authorising private temporary employment offices completely ignored in the declaration, on the contrary, a perception was created and measures were proposed as if the Assembly had approved the aims of the government and the employers.
Moreover, a similar attempt is being made through mass media to create the same perception and public support.
If the government is sincere about getting subcontracting practices under control, they have only to apply the second article of Labour Law 4857 and do not need to pass another law.
The government should immediately stop all subcontracting practices! In several public sector workplaces the number of workers working for subcontracting companies has reached one million, almost 50% of the public sector workforce. These workers should immediately be employed as civil servants and should be given civil servant status. The Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs should change its attitude of not implementing court rulings in favour of subcontracting company workers becoming union members and should withdraw its “authorisation” appeal to the High Court. However, the Government, instead of applying the law limiting the usage of subcontractors, wants to pass laws establishing subcontracting as the fundamental mode of employment.
The solution for unpaid severance indemnities is not to create a severance fund. Severance indemnity rights should stay as they are but the obstacles preventing workers obtaining those rights should be removed.
Private Temporary Employment Offices are sales offices for modern slaves. Instead of opening up new ones, the Government should make the necessary changes regarding weekly working hours in order to provide new areas of employment. The fact that Private Temporary Employment Offices are related to women’s employment conceals the fact that the Government is seeking sources of cheap labour.
If the Government wants to encourage the employment of women with children, childcare should be equally shared between men and women alike and free nurseries should be opened. However, we know that in Turkey, only 16% percent of the demand for nursery and preschool education is provided. There are no nurseries for infants under 3 years of age and there exists only a limited number of possibilities for children between 3 and 5. The state does not provide any other support apart from 16 weeks maternity leave. Thus, the Government should stop using “improving women employment” as a pretext for selling and renting labour through Private Temporary Employment Offices.
After being in power for more than 10 years, if the informal employment rate is still over 40%, the responsibility is not that of the workers but belongs to the AKP and the employers.
Increase in trade union membership is the most efficient instrument for fighting informal employment. If the obstacles in the way of trade union membership, bans on rights to strike and thresholds for trade union representation are lifted and free collective bargaining opportunities are created, informal employment will lose its grounds for existence. The Government, once again proves its insincerity by not conferring these rights.
Our confederation**, now as before, is against the measures facilitating easy layoffs, destruction of the severance indemnity system by channelling it into a fund, the opening up of new private temporary employment offices for modern slavery and the utilisation of subcontracting companies. We will continue to fight against all of these measures. Unified, we will resist and overcome such anti-labour laws.
* The Employment Assembly, a body consisting of representatives of the government and labour and employers’ unions and organisations, was established in 1946. The first Assembly was held in 1947. In the last 67 years, the Employment Assembly has met only 9 times. Although in 2003, the law was modified so as to impose at least one meeting a year, the AKP government has not held any meetings since 2004. (http://birgun.net/yazi-goster/calisma-meclisi-musameresi-616.html) (t.n.)
** KESK- Confederation of Civil Servants Unions (t.n.)