Education International
Education International

Turkish trade unionists' trial continues

published 23 June 2010 updated 23 June 2010

Education International has sent a strongly worded statement of solidarity to teacher colleagues from Egitim Sen and KESK in Turkey after the third hearing of their court case took place on 22 June.

The controversial case involves 31 public sector trade unionists, 27 of whom are teachers and members of Egitim Sen – an EI affiliate. All 31 face heavy prison terms for allegedly belonging to a Kurdish organisation that is banned within Turkey.

After a short hearing on 22 June the collective case for the 31 trade unionists was adjourned until 22 October, 2010.

As was the case with the initial hearing in November 2009, an international delegation comprising teacher trade unionists including representatives of GEW from Germany, DLF from Denmark, and EI, was present to show support to the defendants and to witness the judicial proceedings.

EI continues to call on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against the defendants and to respect the right of teachers and their unions.

In the event that all charges are not dropped, EI expects the next court hearing to respect the defendants’ basic rights. This is a matter of particular concerns since the judicial conduct in the previous hearing, in November 2009, did not meet national or international standards for a fair process in the application of the law.

EI and teachers worldwide are determined to follow the Egitim Sen/KESK court case and to continue monitoring the situation of trade union rights in Turkey. An international delegation will attend the next hearing on 22 october 2010.

The recent International Labour Conference in June heard the Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) review the case of Turkey under ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association. In its conclusions, the Committee stated that it: “continued to observe with regret the allegations of important restrictions placed on freedom of speech and of assembly of trade unionists, particularly in the health and education sectors.”

The Committee also: “urged the Government to continue to take all necessary measures to ensure a climate free from violence, pressure or threats of any kind so that workers and employers could fully and freely exercise their rights under the Convention.’’