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T URKISH SO CIAL DEMO CRA T IC VIEW Republican People’s Party



Feburary 2010

Tekel workers are calling for support

Tobacco workers from all around Turkey have been protesting in Ankara against the government .After 50 consecutive days of protest actions against the loss of employee personal rights due to privatization, Tekel workers in Ankara are calling for support.

Backround: The union warns that 12,000 Tekel workers are going to lose their jobs in February 2010 due to privatization. The workers do not want their status to be converted into 4-C staff, so-called "temporary workers", which means loss of job security and rights to compensation for example. Neither do they want to be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture for the protection of their employee personal rights. The privatization process in Tekel was initiated in 2001. Later on, the sections of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes were demerged. The privatization process for alcoholic beverages was completed in 2008 and sold to Mey Beverages. 8 out of 17 factories for alcoholic beverages were closed down in the course of the privatization. 1,700 workers out of a total of 3,631 were transferred to Mey, the other ones left the company. In 2009, the number of workers decreased to 323 people, less than 10 percent of the original number of staff. The cigarette section was sold in 2008. There were 477,000 tobacco manufacturers in 2001. By 2008, the number had decrease by 3 fifth to 194,000. Currently, the sections of tobacco leaves and salt processing are being privatized. Tekel employs 12,000 workers now, compared to 31,000 employees in 2001. The Tekel workers have received much media attention since the protests begun. Police intervened a few times on the demonstrations. In one instance police used pepper gas to disperse the workers in Ankara’s Abdi İpekçi park,

C H P EUROPEAN UNION REPRESENTATION Republican People's Party – Turkey

( Member of the Socialist International )

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causing a Republican People’s Party, or CHP deputy to be adversely affected from the gas. Deputy Çetin Soysal later opened a lawsuit against the Interior Ministry for the event. One of the workers, Ali Can Akyel was injured in the melee and was hospitalized. Akyel is the head of family of seven children in the southeastern province of Muş. Selcuk Kozağaçlı from the Contemporary Lawyers Association said that they are going to apply to court for Akyel. Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Çetin Soysal indicated that he is going put the issue forward to the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission. Soysal was exposed to tear gas himself and said that the identity of the police officer who attacked him could be confirmed but is kept confidential. The police officer will be called before the commission as well, as Soysal declared. CHP leader Deniz Baykal accused the government of despotism. BAYKAL BREAKS BLOCKADE AGAINST WORKERS

Authorities did not allow Tekel workers who have been voicing their demands through demonstrations in Ankara, to visit Republican People's Party (CHP) HQs, saying that it threatened the security of the city. When talks with Interior Minister Besir Atalay and Ankara Governor Kemal Onal did not bear any results, CHP leader Deniz Baykal brought three buses belonging to CHP to the Turk-Is Labour Union HQs, and carried the workers to CHP HQs. MHP Secretary General Cihan Pacaci who met with workers visiting the HQs of his party said, AKP sought legitimacy from foreign forces while embracing a cruel and brutal attitude against its own people.

CHP DEFENDS SOCIAL RIGHTS IN TURKEY Despite CHP’s clear demands and the support of the majority of the labour unions and the employers, the government preferred not to pass the social legislation and consequently the relevant chapter of negotiations was not opened with the EU. This is a clear indication of the influence of the informal economy on the government’s policies which creates problems of public revenues and child labour among others. CHP’s issues:   

CHP’s Deputy President of the Parliamentary Group Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu supporting the fireworkers protests in Istanbul

policies cover a wide range of social Fighting the income disparities, Equal payment to equal work, Labour unions law in conformity with the ILO standards.

CHP Deputy Çetin Soysal adversely affected from attack of the security forces using the tear gas

We are committed to reform the social state with the aim of universal health coverage and better protection of workers. The ILO standards and European social policies should be incorporated in the Turkish social system. The CHP programme foresees gender equality in education, professional life and public service.

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Information sources

CHP Policies


Labour Unions


Tekel question Daily coverage


For a wider and in-depth coverage of the Tekel movement see also :

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CHP - Social Rights  

CHP Social Rights Tekel workers' call