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Turbo Turkey

Turkey is one of the hotly emerging economies forming part of the MINT group (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey). It’s an interesting nation state which has looked towards the East and the West throughout its history. Initially ambitious to join the then EC since 1959 it’s only since 2005 that it has attempted to engage with the European Union and try and become a member.

The economy has had some recent problems. This has led to speculation as to the stability of its economic, long term progress and, as to the strength of the power base of Prime Minster Erdogan, who has tried to develop a careful line between integration with Western economies and also preserving the Islamic integrity of the nation state.

State/employer relationships with the trade unions have always been difficult. Indeed, recent reports from the International Trades Union Congress (ITUC) suggest that the situation in Turkey can be fraught at times.

In November 2012 the Code on Trade Unions and Collective Employment Relations was established and essentially rolled two employment codes into one. The state certainly has some persuasive powers including the right to prevent a strike for 60 days, if required to do so, to protect national security/ the national interest.

The ITUC is particularly concerned that there are:-

• Barriers to the establishment of trade union organisation;

• Restrictions on workers’ rights to form and join organisations of their own choosing;

• Restrictions regarding the recognition of collective bargaining agents;

• Restrictions on the type of strike action that can be undertaken (e.g. pickets, wild cat, go slow); and

• Examples of alleged judicial harassment of trade union leaders and imprisonment of trade union leaders.

Certainly no nation state (even our own) always has a harmonious working relationship between capital and labour. However, it is clear that the relationship in Turkey is particularly fraught.

It remains to be seen whether Turkey will eventually join the EU. This would have a potentially profound impact on how the Turkish economy organises and structures its relationship with its social partners. The trade unions will be particularly keen given the fact that they would see membership as leverage to extend their role.

Given the EU’s apparent push towards emphasising and utilising collective agreements across the EU, Turkish employers may have to re-adapt very quickly to a changing working environment.

Matthew Yates Partner

Co-Lead Global Labour Law Unit

matthew.yates@dwf.co.uk

 

David Gibson Partner

Co-Lead Global Labour Law Unit

david.gibson@dwf.co.uk

 

 

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Legal news, views, trends and tools for HR Professionals. Stay ahead. Go further