From 10 to 21 June 2019, the 108th Session of the International Labour Conference is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Once a year this conference brings together government, worker and employer representatives of the ILO member States Amongst the Education International (EI) delegation are European member organisations from France, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

In the framework of the Committee on the Application Standards’ examination of violations of the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise in Turkey, Özgür Bozdogan, Eğitim Sen’s Education Secretary, reported on the continued violation of rights and freedoms and the oppression trade unionists face in Turkey. “How can a trade union member enjoy the right of freedom of association and enjoy the right to organise under these conditions?”, asked Özgür Bozdogan during his intervention.

In its statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, Mr Tache, Adviser, Ministry of Labour and Social Justice of Romania, urged the government of Turkey to [...] swiftly take the necessary steps to ensure a climate free from violence, discrimination, pressure or threats so that all workers and employers are able to exercise their rights under Convention 87 in the country[...].

“[...] We express concern over recent arrests of union members and officials during protests [...], as well as the withdrawal of passports of trade union executives and other restrictions of civil liberties such as the prohibition of demonstrations and press statements. [...] Workers should have the right to unionise and join the organisations of their own choosing, including in the public sector.[...]”, the EU statement reads.

The EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, aligned itself with the statement.

ETUCE welcomes the EU statement in relation to the Committee on Application of standards Republic of Turkey - C87 - Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948. The right to organise and join a trade union is a human right. Interfering and hindering the functioning of trade unions and their activities is a lack of respect for trade unions’ independence and autonomy. Genuine implementation and compliance with human and trade union rights are essential for the socio-economic dynamics of every country. ETUCE and its member organisations continue to fervently support our colleagues in Turkey in particular in the preservation of human and trade union rights and freedoms, including women’s rights, children’s rights and the freedom of expression” , stated Susan Flocken, ETUCE European Director.

Among the countries to be debated at the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards are Serbia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Tajikistan.