South African trade union COSATU calls on Turkey to respect workers’ rights

South Africa’s trade union COSATU has called on the Turkish government to stop interfering in the internal affairs of South Africa’s largest trade union federation.

The union has also urged Turkey not to violate workers’ rights to establish and join unions.

The trade union said in a statement after the Turkish Ministry of Family, Labour and Social illegally refused to allow Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions’ (KESK) co-presidents Mehmet Bozgeyik and Aysun Gezen to represent the Confederation in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

COSATU mentioned that Turkey has ratified International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 87 which explicitly stipulates that every worker has the right to establish and join an organization of their own choice.

The Turkish Ministry has forcefully blocked Bozgeyik and Gezen from representing the Confederation on the grounds that they have been dismissed from the public service.

COSATU said in June this year the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) of the ILO examined the application of Convention 87 by Turkey.

“[The] Turkish government was repeatedly urged to follow the recommendations of the ILO Committee of Experts (CEACR) regarding excessive interference in trade union activities by public authorities contrary to Article 3 of Convention 87.

“COSATU urges the Turkish Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services (and his office) to desist from interfering in the internal affairs of KESK. We express our grave concern with the systematic violations of trade union rights in Turkey, which are contrary to the commitments made by the country’s government at an international level,” COSATU national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in the statement.

Pamla said COSATU has communicated this concern to the Turkish Ministry and called for it to support KESK to be able to nominate whomsoever it decides, to negotiate on behalf of its members.

Turkey’s Confederation of Public Employees’ Trade Unions is one of the four major national trade union federations in Turkey which was formed in 1995. KESK is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation and the European Trade Union Confederation.

In the aftermath of the 15 July 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has imposed a state of emergency and more than 1400 non-governmental organizations were closed.

In addition to that 934 schools, 109 dormitories, 15 universities, 35 hospitals, and 19 trade unions were shut down through a decree issued by President Erdogan, Euronews reported. Turkish courts arrested a number of trade unionists in several cities across Turkey since the coup attempt.

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