ITUC OnLine – June 17, 2009

Turkey: Twenty-two Unionists Remain In Detention
Brussels, 17 June 2009 (ITUC OnLine): On 29 May the ITUC, together with Education International (EI), wrote to the Turkish authorities to protest against the interventions by the Turkish police against their respective affiliates, the Confederation of Public Employees’ Unions (KESK), as well as teachers’ union Egitim-Sen, which is in its turn affiliated to KESK (see previous online ).
Fourteen of the people who were arrested after the police invasion of the KESK headquarters in Ankara and of KESK’s local branch offices in Istanbul remain in custody to date. They are not the only Turkish unionists behind bars at the moment, as the total number of detained KESK and Egitim-Sen members and leaders, including those arrested on previous occasions, currently amounts to no less than 22. According to the information received by the ITUC, living conditions in the prison where the unionists are being held are really bad, there are concerns about the health of one of the detainees, i.e., former Egitim-Sen Women’s secretary Elif Akgül Ates, and the defence lawyers still don’t have access to their files.
On 15 August, negotiations will start on working conditions for public sector workers, which the Turkish authorities refer to as “collective consultative talks”, which in itself is in breach of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 98 on collective bargaining, ratified by Turkey in 1952. 
In a letter sent to the Turkish government, the ITUC urges the prime minister to instruct the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all the arrested KESK and Egitim-Sen leaders and members, and to assume a more constructive approach towards the unions and their work in general.  “In no way can trade union activities in defence of workers’ rights be exercised in a climate that is not free of violence, reprisals or threats of any kind against union leaders or members”, said Guy Ryder, ITUC general secretary.

Iran: Global Union Organisations Express Deep Concern
Global Action for Justice for Iranian Workers on 26 June
Brussels, 17 June 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has expressed deep concern of the situation in Iran, following the contested election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared victor against claims of election fraud by opposition Presidential candidates.  Several people have been killed and many more injured by government forces which have been brutally repressing huge demonstrations demanding that the election be recounted or annulled. 
“The violent response of the authorities against peaceful demonstrators must be condemned, and those responsible for the deaths and injuries have to be brought to justice.  The people of Iran have the right to nothing less than full democracy and transparency, and we call upon those in power to ensure that democracy and internationally-recognised human rights are fully respected,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.
Despite an official clampdown on the media, reports are also emerging of arrests of political activists and journalists.  The ITUC and its Global Unions partners are continuing to focus their actions on campaigning for the release of trade unionists who have been imprisoned due to their activities in support of workers’ rights in recent years.  Among those in jail is bus workers’ union leader Mansour Osanloo, who was beaten and detained by security forces on 10 July 2007, less than 3 weeks after he addressed an ITUC General Council meeting in Brussels.  Rallies and other activities are being held on June 26, the international action day for justice for Iranian workers, in actions coordinated by the ITUC, EI, ITF and IUF.  Events already scheduled include:
Rallies at Iranian diplomatic missions in Belgium, France and the Netherlands;
In Australia, unions and community organisations will rally outside the Iranian embassy in Canberra at midday on June 26.  Events are also planned in Sydney and Melbourne;
In India, the All India Railwaymen’s Federation will organise rallies, marches, and demonstrations;
In Indonesia, unions will rally in Jakarta and conduct a prayer meeting in the port of Tanjung Priok;
In Japan, unions will hold a mass meeting on 24 June to adopt a motion in support of the campaign. This will be taken to the Iranian Embassy in Tokyo on 26;
In Wellington New Zealand, unions plan to bring “a brass band, lots of signs, drums and a street play depicting locked-up Iranian trade unionists” to the Embassy;
In Nigeria, a rally will be held at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos;
In Thailand, trade unionists will demonstrate at the Iranian Embassy as well as visiting the ILO (International Labour Organization) office to raise the issue of the violation of workers’ rights in Iran; and,
In London, United Kingdom, a demonstration will be held at the Iranian Embassy.
“The Iranian authorities have a lamentable record on workers’ rights issues, preferring to repress independent union activity rather than respect the global standards of the International Labour Organisation.  The imprisoned trade unionists must be released without delay, and the full respect for the fundamental rights of working people have to be a central part of what must become a truly democratic Iran,” said Ryder.
Click here for more details, or contact:
ITUC. Press Officer Mathieu Debroux. Tel: +32(0)2 22 40 204. Email:
ITF. Press officer Sam Dawson. Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260. Email:
EI. Nancy Knickerbocker. Tel: +32 (0)2 22 40 611. Email:
IUF. Peter Rossman. Tel: +41 22 793 22 33. Email:
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