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Collective Rights of Workers Under Turkey’s Continous State of Emergency: Trade Unions in European and European Affiliated Enterprises

Writer: Hakan Koçak

Original Name: OHAL Rejiminde İşçilerin Kollektif Hakları: Avrupa Kökenli/İlişkili İşletmelerde Sendikal Örgütlenme Hakları

Publication Date: 2021

Publisher: Hafıza Merkezi - The Truth Justice and Memory Center, Association for Monitoring Equal Rights, Netherlands Helsinki Committee


This report documents how the State of Emergency declared in 2016 has led to a higher level of labour rights violations in Turkey. Even though violations of labour rights did not necessarily start during the State of Emergency, these violations have become more frequent and permanent as a result of it. The State of Emergency, which officially ended, is still de facto in place, especially for workers. Despite criticisms and warnings from international actors and courts’ judgments, there has been no improvement. The report provides examples of widespread labour rights violations: the freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and strike, the right to peaceful assembly, and more broadly the freedom of speech and assembly in general, which are guaranteed by ILO’s fundamental conventions.

The curbs on labour rights extend to subsidiaries of European companies. It is clear that the companies in question do not have the main responsibility for this situation. Instead, it is a result of the official and de facto State of Emergency, decisions of the government and its practices. However, it can be seen that European companies also take advantage of the situation and commit widespread rights violations in Turkey. In their own countries, many European companies have to respect the rights of association, collective bargaining and striking. They have well-developed social dialogue mechanisms and established internal principles in addition to international agreements. These standards are unfortunately adhered to in a limited way by the companies while operating in Turkey. The report argues that companies must improve their performance, in particular since their practices are often in violation of the principles of human rights compliance defined by the companies themselves.