More than 100 Turkish trade union leaders and members have received criminal indictments for participation in a massive workers’ rights protest that occured in Ankara on April 1st of this year, and are now facing 5 year prison terms if found guilty. The charges — which have yet to be substantiated by Turkish police — are believed to be government retribution for the TEKEL (Turkish Tobacco and Alcohol Monopoly Workers) union’s fight against the government’s decision to summarily privatize state-run TEKEL without negotiation, leaving 12,000 employees jobless overnight.
From a statement by the IUF, the international umbrella union with which the Turkish food workers (TEKGIDA-IS ) are affiliated:
The union ceased public action and waited for a response to their demands for new employment with acquired rights — as required under Turkish law. When the government failed to offer anything concrete, TEKGIDA-IS and their many supporters demonstrated again in Ankara on April 1, 2010. They were beaten and pepper-gassed — and now they face prison. The list of those indicted by the Ankara Public Prosecutor include TEKGIDA-IS President Mustafa Turkel. The indictments are intended to cripple the labour movement in Turkey by criminalizing protest action in defense of employment and social rights. Labour law in Turkey already severely restricts organizing and bargaining rights.
Trials for the indicted union officers and members are set to begin June 3rd, 2011.
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