08 October 2010, Friday

TEKEL workers launch indefinite sit-down strike

The 4-C regulation, which was presented by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Government despite the 78-day long resistance of the TEKEL workers as well as the public pressure, left the TEKEL workers unemployed.

Workers of TEKEL (Turkey's former state-run alcohol and tobacco monopoly), whom were not employed elsewhere or were disallowed to start working, launched resistance in front of the headquarters of Tek-Gıda-İş Union, union of TEKEL workers, in Istanbul Tuesday.

The new address for the TEKEL workers to resist is the entrance of the Tek-Gıda-İş Union headquarters in Levent, Istanbul. The workers, who went to the Union to discuss with Mustafa Türkel, head of Tek-Gıda-İş, were stopped to enter in the Union building. The workers have set up a camp and launched a sit-down strike. "The second TEKEL Resistance has now begun," TEKEL workers said.

Following the end of the job loss compensation payment as of October 1st and upon the Union's back out on all of its promises, TEKEL workers, who previously resisted 78 days in the first months of this year, have launched a sit-down strike in front of Tek-Gıda-İş Union headquarters in Istanbul.

Some 25 representatives of TEKEL workers, coming from Hatay, İzmir, Tokat, İstanbul and Batman, convened at Tez Koop İş Union headquarters. After the meeting the workers started a march toward Tek Gıda İş building. There the workers encountered a barricade formed by the police. When the workers tried to enter the Union building, they were blocked by the police. Thereon the workers began shouting slogans, "Everywhere TEKEL, everywhere resistance," "Union's job is to protect the workers," and "The workers are right here, where are the unionists?"

The workers, who had launched resistance against the privatization of TEKEL in December 2009 and stayed in tents in front of the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş), have set up a new camp in front of Tek-Gıda-İş headquarters this time. The workers, who are still unemployed despite signing up the 4-C regulations, went to the Tek Gıda İş Union in Tuesday morning.

Reacting to the failure of the Union in implementing the previously made action decisions, to the Union complying with the 4-C Contracts that was imposed to the workers and leaving the decision on the subject in the hand of Constitutional Court, the workers wanted to discuss with the Türk-İş chairman Mustafa Türkel. However, there were riot police at the gates, waiting for the workers. Their demand to discuss with Türkel was also rejected.

A resistance, similar to the previous one in Ankara*

Thereon, the representatives of the workers, coming from Hatay, İzmir, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, Batman and Samsun, have set up tents in front of the Union building.

The job loss compensation payment has been stopped as of Oct. 1st, despite signing the 4-C Contracts, the workers are still unemployed and despite some of the workers have been assigned to new working places, they still could not restart working, the workers said.

Underlining the fact that the Tek-Gıda-İş Union administration broke its promises, the worker representatives specify that nothing has changed in their situation since April 1st.

"Mustafa Türkel, who was roaring on behalf of the workers during the 78-day resistance, adviced last month that the workers should apply for 4-C contracts," said İmam Yargıcı, a representative of TEKEL workers based in Hatay. "We have come over here as the worker representatives from different cities. He [Türkel] does not take us seriously to discuss. He puts riot police on the gate. In case our discussion demand is not considered, they will face a new resistance, which will be as strong as the previous one in Ankara," Yargıcı added.

The workers are maintaining the indefinite sit-down strike within the tents set up in front of Tek-Gıda-İş headquarters in İstanbul.

Press Statement of TEKEL Workers

TEKEL Workers made a press statement in front of the Tek-Gıda-İş Union headquarters. The press statement is as below.

"As of October 1st, the job loss compensation payment has been halted. While we had admitted to sign 4-C Contracts, but the government backs out on its promises, so we are still unemployed. There are workers who are still unemployed despite signing the 4-C Contracts and workers, who were transferred to new working places, are disallowed to restart working.

Since the number of the members of the Constitutional Court increased from 11 to 17, the Court does think that it is not fair to decide on the issue with 11 members only, the issue should be discussed again under the new form of the Court. And this clarifies which side the Court stands.

Moreover, Tek-Gıda-İş Union administration has never kept its promises for struggle given to the workers and to the public since April 1st. The Union escapes from struggle.

Within these circumstances, either we will bow down before our fate and accept what the government gives us, or we will keep on forcing Tek Gıda İş, a union that was founded by the great effort of TEKEL workers, to launch the struggle.

We are once again at the gates of Tek-Gıda-İş. We were at the gates Türk-İş in July. We are here for asking union administration to keep its promises for the TEKEL workers. We have come here to prove that our 78-day long resistance was not for nothing. We have no choice but struggling against the 4-C implementation and subcontracting becoming a general working model.

In every area, from healthcare to education, from shipyards to municipalities, from service sector to production units, the job security is being annihilated. Temporarily contracted, subcontracted and casual labor based work models are becoming widespread. Neither TEKEL workers nor the Tek-Gıda-İş Union can resist against this current alone. However, the vanguards of the 78-day long resistance and Unionists cannot and should not evade responsibility. This is the expectation of working class.

Tek Gıda-İş administration cannot evade responsibility. What is expected from Tek-Gıda-İş, is to lead the struggle. It cannot go anywhere with insulting workers who are in struggle and accusing them as 'terrorists'. It cannot represent an example of contentious unionism by hiding in the shadow of the riot police.

You set up a police barricade before us. You forgot the days of struggle side by side. In January and February there were AKP Government and Türk-İş Administration on the other side of barricade. And today?

On our side of barricade, there is no Türk-İş or Tek-Gıda-İş officer. Will Tek-Gıda-İş become a supporter of AKP Government and Türk-İş, or will it struggle with the workers who fight for their rights? There is no three-sided barricade: Either you are with us, or you are with them against us!

By looking at the number of the worker representatives here today, do not think that the workers are not ready for struggle. Do not misinterpret the fact that we are here as representatives of the workers only. Tek-Gıda-İş should also not misunderstand this. TEKEL workers watches the oppression of the police and union on the workers in struggle from April 1st.

However, there is a limit of the patience of the TEKEL workers, as everyone. No one dare to push that limit.

Tek Gıda-İş for action!

Union is home of the workers!

Those who do not struggle against 4-C, betray the working class!"


* Thousands of workers began protesting in front of the Türk-İş headquarters in Ankara in December. They demonstrated for two and a half months, demanding to be transferred to other public offices with their rights and benefits intact following the privatization of Tekel.

Labour World

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