09 October 2010, Saturday

TEKEL Workers to continue resistance (Video)

The indefinite sit-down strike that the TEKEL workers launched in front of Tekgıda-İş Union headquarters in Istanbul, is going on. The workers, who want the Union administration to keep its promises, say that otherwise they would continue the resistance from its 79th day.

KAZIM ŞAHİN kazimsahin@emekdunyasi.net

Setting up tents in front of Tekgıda-İş headquarters in Istanbul, the TEKEL workers, who resisted against 4-C regulations for 78 days in the beginning of the year in Ankara, have been left unemployed after signing the 4-C contracts. The workers want the unions to keep their action promises and they try to discuss with the union leaders. However, the union leaders dismiss the demand of the workers.

Following the termination of job loss compensation payment as of October 1st, TEKEL workers went to the headquarters of Tekgıda-İş, the union of TEKEL workers, to discuss with union chairman Mustafa Türkel. But the workers were blocked to enter the building by the riot police. Thereon the workers set up tents in front of the union building and said that "the resistance starts over."


The TEKEL workers coming from İzmir, Tokat, İstanbul, Batman and Samsun, want to see the action decisions made by the unions to be implemented. The worker representatives indicate that in case the action decisions are not implemented, the 2nd TEKEL Resistance will begin immediately.

"The unionists had made promises during the privatization process, but they used the workers back then as well. There is no one considering what is going to the workers after privatization of the facilities, there is no one caring about the workers," said Metin Arslan, a former TEKEL worker based in Istanbul.

"Here is the problem. Following the verdict of the State Council on extending the admission period of 4-C contracts, the unions decided to dismantle the tents in front of the Türk-İş headquarters in Ankara. This was an attempt to terminate the active struggle," Arslan added.

"Afterwards the action calendar was announced. However, the Union broke this process. Even though we, the workers, acting against the 4-C regulations in accordance with previously made action decisions, we did not receive support from the union. The union saw us as enemies," Arslan told the LaborWorld.Net.

Speaking on the nationwide joint demonstration of the union confederations on May 26th, Arslan said that it was an action decision made by the all six union confederations in the country, but Türk-İş and Hak-İş union confederations got cold feet later on.


"We understand the attitudes of Türk-İş and Hak-İş [due to their affiliation to the government], but what about the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) and the Confederation of Public Laborers Unions of Turkey (KESK) They also made decisions but they also did not stand with them. DİSK and KESK remained quiet and thus they approved what Türk-İş has done to the workers," Arslan said.

"Tekgıda-İş chairman Türkel, who had previously made commitment to the workers' struggle, now does not want to meet workers," said Arslan. "He demonstrates the workers in action, as enemies. We are blocked to enter our unions, to which we have been paying our dues for years now," he added.

We had resisted against the 4-C conditions, which were imposed to us, for 78 days in Ankara last winter, but now the union makes a call for the workers to accept the 4-C contracts, said Arslan. "So the union is the responsible of the fact that the workers were left unemployed," he told the LabourWorld.Net.


We have come for discussing with the union managers, but we encountered a blockade formed by the police around the union headquarters, said Arzu Güneş, a TEKEL worker based in İzmir. "The union leaders do not want to talk to us. They have been stalling us off for months now. We are done waiting, we want a result. If we do not get it, we will keep resisting right here," she added.


"So far the workers complied with every decision. We are right here not for a new thing, for forcing the union to implement the existing action decisions," said Halil Acar, a TEKEL worker based in Malatya. "We organized demonstrations after the resistance in Ankara, but we did not receive support from the union. A union means home for the workers, but now the workers are blocked to enter their home," he added.

"We will resist and we will expand the struggle. No back off!" Acar told the LaborWorld.Net.

Healthcare and Secure Future for Everyone Platform (HSGGP) made a solidarity visit to the TEKEL workers, who resist in Istanbul since October 4th. The resistance of the workers receives a growing support. In addition to the HSGGP, various worker movements and progressive organizations such as shipyard workers, progressive union representatives and platform member political groups present support to the struggle.

Convening in front of Metro shopping mall in Levent, Istanbul, the support group raised banners saying "We support the struggle of TEKEL workers against the 4-C," and shouted slogans, "We are right, we are to win!", "Neither 4-C, nor 4-B! Job safety for everyone!"


Drawing attention to the fact that the flexible work model under the title of 4-C is becoming widespread in every business line; HSGGP spokesperson Yunus Öztürk said "This struggle of TEKEL workers should not be limited only with TEKEL workers. This struggle should be expanded to the areas such as healthcare, education, subcontracted laborers. We have to transform this struggle to a united struggle of working class of Turkey," he added.

The struggle of TEKEL workers is a matter of honor for every worker, said Bircan Taşkıran, a member of Textile Union. "Where are the union leaders, who were on newspapers, making statements, giving photo shots? Where are they now? They are not present here today. Because these workers are now calling for account," Taşkıran said.

"Workers of TEKEL are guiding us. We will stand for them. We will call the union administrations, which were transformed into bosses within the last 30 years, to account," Taşkıran added.

İstanbul - Labour World

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