ITUC OnLine – April 19, 2007

Brussels, April 19 (ITUC online): Both the ITUC and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have condemned the legal proceedings that have been brought against 11 Turkish trade union leaders, and the jail sentences that may result from these.

Back in December 2005, the ITUC wrote to the authorities to protest at the violent repression of the peaceful teachers’ demonstration in Ankara of 26 November 2005. As a result of this action ordered by the Turkish authorities, 17 teachers were injured, and ten of them arrested, merely for exercising their legitimate trade union rights.

11 Executive Committee members of a number of unions which all belong to the ITUC-affiliated Confederation of Public Employees’ Unions (KESK) received a lawsuit brought by the public prosecutor. They were all sentenced to one year and three months imprisonment and a fine of 407 YTL each. While the sentences of nine of the above-mentioned trade union leaders were suspended, the sentences for KESK President Ismail Hakki Tombul and former BTS President Fehmi Kutan were not. If these sentences were to be confirmed by the Turkish Higher Court of Appeal, both union leaders would be sent to prison.  In a letter sent to the authorities, with copies to the Mission of Turkey to the EU and European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, the ITUC and the ETUC vigorously protest against this violation of trade union rights and urge the prime minister to take all measures in order to ensure that the charges brought against the trade union leaders be dropped immediately and to fully implement trade union right in Turkey.