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Role of Trade Unions on Turkey-EU Relations
In this paper, I tried to examine the role of trade unions on Turkey-EU relations, especially their role on Turkey’s accession process to the EU. My research question is : ‘’Did trade unions play an active role on Turkey’s accession process to the EU?’’ and my argument is ; Yes, they played an active role on this process. Basically,they influenced Turkish government’s policies and they conducted lobbying activities on European side. In order to prove my argument I would prefer to use ten years periodisation method, with this periodisation method I argue that we can obviously see and easily understand policy changes between Turkey-EU relations and also policy changes within the trade unions. In that sense we can observe trade unions’ active and important role on this process. My research paper will consist of 3 parts, in the first part, I will give brief information about trade unions of Turkey (DİSK, Türk-iş,Hak-iş). In the second part, I will focus on positions and policies of trade unions on Turkey’s accession process to the EU from 1970s to 2000s. Finally, I will conclude my research paper.
Trade Union Confederations of Turkey:
Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-iş) was established in the year 1952 at a time when the right to strike and voluntary collective bargaining in line with the ILO standards were not yet exercised in Turkey.1 It was the first and the largest trade union confederation of Turkey. From their establishment to the nowadays Türk-iş has a nationalistic character and they have weak relations with working class.2 Politically they stay in center but Türk-iş include generally right wing trade unions and historically Türk-iş has close relationships with governments especially center-right political parties.3 Main goal of Türk-iş is to solve the nation’s workers’ problems in cooperation with but independent from the government.4 Türk-iş consider themselves as beyond political parties and try to adopt American model of trade union. Türk-iş joined ICFTU/APRO (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) in 1973, ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) in 1988 and TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee) in 1975.5 DİSK (Confederation of Progressive Trade UNIONs) was founded in Istanbul on February 13, 1967, DİSK was until that time affiliated to Türk-iş. DİSK is a mass and class based,independent and democratic organisation with a socialist perspective. Founders of DİSK was also among the founders of socialist Workers Party of Turkey.6 The founders of DİSK were saying; ‘'We have united for the dignity, freedoms, rights and interests of whole working class. DİSK had to resist the attacks coming from the goverments, capital groups and yellow trade unionism.’'7 In that sense, main goal of DİSK is to promote the social and democratic rights of the working class independently from political parties, owners of capital and the state. The political aspect of DİSK’s activities put the state and the confederation on opposite sides. DİSK cooperated with student unions, and argued for an independent and anti-capitalist system in Turkey. 8 DİSK has became a member of ETUC in 1985 and joined ICFTU in 1992. Hak-iş ( Confederation of Real Trade Unions) was founded in 22.10.1976 in Ankara. Hak-iş is not a class based organisation. In Hak-iş’s ideology, the employer-employee interests are not conflictual. Rather, the confederation posits that Hak-iş is going to weigh the rights of the employers and employees in a balance of justice and it will grant the rights to those who deserve them.Main goal of Hak-iş is to value humanism, localism, nationalism, moral values, law and justice while promoting the rights of workers which interjects their conservative and islamist character. 9 In that sense they have close relationships with conservative parties such as National...
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