ITUC reiterates its call for boycott ILO meeting in İstanbul on October 2-5

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has reiterated its call for members to boycott International Labor Organization’s (ILO) 10th European Regional Meeting in İstanbul in October 2-5, 2017, according to a report by BirGün daily.

In an interview to BirGün daily, ITUC’s Deputy General Secretary Jaap Wienen said that nearly all members of ITUC will follow along with the call of the board and boycott the meeting scheduled to take place in İstanbul since none of the previously stated, and recently repeated “calls and demands of ITUC and ETUC have not been taken into consideration by government authorities in Turkey.”

In a join statement adopted by ITUC-ETUC on May 5, 2017, the international representatives had conveyed their concerns at the massive wave of dismissals of workers, particularly public employees – but also municipal workers notably where trustees have been appointed – by the Turkish government, in most cases based on no evidence or proof, which is not in compliance with the rule of law.

The statement had stressed that the state of emergency and the decrees have gone far beyond what is necessary for security reasons and are disproportionate; that the dismissals and suspensions are destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers and are becoming a humanitarian problem; that the measures also have an important negative impact on business, investment and jobs; that meanwhile, other key issues for workers and trade unions, such as the much-needed improvement of occupational health and safety, the precarity introduced by some subcontracting and agency working, or the renewal of collective agreements, have been put aside; and finally stressed the importance of social peace, as the basis for the development of a sustainable, inclusive, democratic, secular and stable society.

Also in its meetings with the Ministry of Labour and the above-mentioned actors, the joint delegation had demanded that the Turkish authorities “to put in place the necessary conditions to lift the state of emergency, to stop collective dismissals and suspensions, intimidations and arrests without any basis of evidence/compliance with the rule of law; to call for the release of all the detained workers and public employees, journalists, parliamentarians and elected mayors who are imprisoned without any clear accusation, and this pending trial; ensure access to all others in detention; to revert to normal legislation which implies the presumption of innocence, individuality of criminal responsibility and punishment, and the right to a fair, independent and transparent trial and appeal procedures; return to respect for the rule of law, democracy and justice; to put in place the Inquiry Commission on State of Emergency Measures (decision 23 January) and ensure that the decisions of this Commission are subject to judicial review and possible independent, transparent and effective appeal procedures in a reasonable time, including in the last resort at European level; immediately redress the grievances of innocent people who have been arrested or suspended, and reinstate them in their jobs; to restore freedom of expression, speech and the media; reopen democratic and independent media and associations; to stop the violation, adopt respect for and implement ILO core labour standards, in particular Conventions 87 and 98 on trade union rights.”

Stating that “the scheduled meeting will clearly not be a meeting representing the workers’ and their demands,” Wienen has said that the upcoming ILO meeting will have ‘no valuabel result.’

According to the report, a letter sent by ITUC and ETUC which has called on their members states’ representatives to stay away from sending delegations to İstanbul for the meeting in October included the following points of concern: Extension of state of emergency; continued dismissals of and pressure on workers who oppose the current government; restrictions on workers trying to practice their right to assemble and to protest; and, lack of regulations ensuring return of dismissed workers through a fair legal process.

Also drawing attention to the detention of members of trade unions in Turkey, public workers, journalists, lawmakers, politicians, as well as, rights advocates and professionals from Turkey branch of Amnesty International, ITUC and ETUC executives have also urged Turkish government to release them and end the oppressive measures.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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