March 27, 2013
Süleyman Çelebi, CHP İstanbul deputy, Member of Health, Family and Social Affairs Commission
I would like to provide you with a summary of CHP’s appeal to Constitutional Court for cancellation and stay of execution of the relevant articles and provisions of the Law on Trade Unions and Collective Agreements (Law 6356).
CHP Deputy of Istanbul
Member of Health, Family and Social Affairs Commission
Law on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements (Law 6356), as a separate law, was enacted in the parliament in 18 October 2012 and came into force in 7 November 2012, by publication of the law in the Official Gazette.
This law replaced the Law on Trade Unions (Law 2821) and the Law on Collective Agreement, Strike and Lock Out (Law 2822) by combining union legislation in a single, separate law.
The necessity of securing the rights to organize, bargain collectively and strike with a real and affective legal protection, setting up a legal infrastructure upon which workers may enjoy their rights freely and removal of all obstacles to enjoyment of these rights have been expressed by both unions and international institutions for years.
As a result of this social necessity, draft laws were prepared to totally amend the union legislation in the period of previous governments. Some amendments were made in 1995 however they did not provide any improvements considering main problems.
Following the several meetings to which trade union confederations, employers’ associations and government representatives participated, a general consensus was reached on the necessity of a new legal regulation. A partial agreement was achieved on the regulations to which Confederations objected and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security submitted the Draft Law to the Council of Ministers. Although the draft law did not meet the expectations of trade unions and ILO and did not bring solutions to the problems, the draft law was conceived as important since some provisions of the draft law had the potential of meeting the urgent needs. Besides, the draft law was also reflecting a partial consensus concerning the problem of competence for collective agreement that had been one of the most important topics of disagreement in the previous draft laws.
However, the Council of Ministers submitted the draft law to the Assembly after changing the important provisions, upon which a consensus was built, to the disadvantage of workers. In addition to that, some improvements were achieved in the Assembly Commissions on some of the provisions which were clearly in contradiction with International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights Convention of United Nations, ILO Convention 87, 98, 135, European Human Rights Convention and Revised European Social Charter. Unfortunately, during the parliament discussion in 6 October 2012, AKP deputies stepped back regarding these provisions and with the votes of these deputies provisions that are contrary to ILO Conventions and Turkish Constitution were added to the law.
The police intervened in a press statement of the unions aiming to protest these provisions and used pepper gas on trade union officials and members and deputies in front of the Assembly. Besides, the opposition of CHP deputies to the law regarding the contradiction of the law to the Turkish Constitution and ILO Conventions was ignored.
In summary, the Law restricts the rights to organize and bargain collectively which are protected by international conventions and the Constitution, maintains the prohibitions on rights, even opens the way to discriminative implementations on the advantage of unions that support the government and it also includes provisions that restrict rights and protections which were included in the Laws 2821, 2822 that were put in practice in 1983 by the military commanders who had staged the military coup in 1980.
Although the draft Bill submitted to the Assembly was aiming to response to criticisms of ILO and to adjust to EU acquis communautaire; the Law enacted in the Parliament was not in line with these aims.
Nevertheless, regarding the Law that contradicts with international conventions and the Constitution, Republican People’s Party, convoked trade union confederations after the law had been put in practice in 7 November 2012. After consulting with trade union confederations and gathering their opinions, we, the CHP deputies, appealed to the Constitutional Court in 4 January 2013 for cancellation and stay of execution of the articles of the Law that are against to the Constitution and the international conventions ratified by Turkish Republic.
The appeal to the Constitutional Court covers 21 articles of the Law which can be classified under four main topics. The first one covers the articles concerning establishment, structure and functioning of the unions, second one covers the articles concerning right to organize and protection of workers and union officials, third one covers the articles concerning collective agreement and competence and finally the fourth and lost one covers the articles regarding right to strike and prohibitions on strike.
To download the full info note: The Summary of the CHP’s appeal to Constitutional Court – The Law on Trade Unions Collective Agreements