Lami Özgen, President of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK), said that due to the application of a single and general contract for all civil servants Law No.4688 on Public Servants' Trade Unions lagged behind the existing law.
KESK, the Civil Servant Unions Confederation (Memur-Sen) and the Public Workers Unions Confederation of Turkey (Kamu-Sen) were holding talks with the Ministry of Labour regarding the amendment of the Civil Servants' Trade Unions Law since September 2011.
The confederations' request for collective bargaining agreements (TİS) including the right to strike was dismissed at the very beginning. The union ban is being held up for many civil servants.
In an interview with bianet, KESK President Özgen said that the draft bill was hidden from them and approved by the Council of Ministers last week. The unions were only able to see the draft law on Wednesday (11 January).
According to the draft, eleven service branches are not going to sign separate collective bargaining agreements. Instead, one single and general contract will be signed on behalf of 2.5 million civil servants.
"What about the social rights of civil servants?"
Özgen told bianet that during the talks with the Ministry of Labour they had reached the agreement that all work branches were going to sign separate collective bargaining agreements. However, this was withdrawn again and hence the amended law was going to lag behind the existing law, Özgen criticized.
"So far, collective bargaining negotiations defined financial rights like pay raises, additional payments and compensation. Personal rights of civil servants and their social and democratic rights were discussed at the Administrative Board. The government would not realize these demands since they were not legally binding".
"Now, again only the financial rights will be discussed with the single TİS applied to all civil servants. Yet, civil servants working at different branches have particular and very different problems and requests. But the draft bill does not consider this right. So, where will these issues of civil servants be discussed?"
"Municipality contracts will be annulled"
Özgen noticed that social equality agreements were signed by municipalities for years in accordance with decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). However, acquired rights were lifted now by the new law which, according to Özgen, was contrary to the ECHR decisions.
Özgen stated that the draft law was not only designed upon the decision of certain ministries but upon the result of certain preferences of the government policies. "A new law should have removed all obstacles in work life before freedom of association and the right to strike as defined by international agreements. But we knew that this was not going to happen; it did not come by surprise", Özgen remarked.
In the talks related to TİS, 2.5 million civil servants will be represented by six members and the head of the delegation: three from Memur-Sen, two from Kamu-Sen and two from KESK. Memur-Sen President Ahmet Gündoğdu will be appointed president of the delegation since his union has the most members.
In an interview with the Bugün newspaper, Gündoğdu emphasized that the right to bargaining of municipality employees was being ignored. "Probably, some ministers could not accept the rights acquired by civil servants. We gained more rights with the Constitution, but now it went backwards". (NV/VK)