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ISSUE 56 page 4

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Two victories in Turkey as unions gain recognition
 TURKEY HAS WITNESSED SEVERAL STRUGGLES FOR TRADE UNION RECOGNITION recently but two long disputes have been brought to a successful conclusion in the last few weeks. The European Review has previously reported on the triumph of the TÜMTIS union in achieving the reinstatement and compensation of 162 workers who were sacked for joining at US-based multinational delivery company UPS. Now, after a majority of the 3,000 workers directly employed by UPS were signed up by TÜMTIS, the Turkish government has certified the union as the official employees’ representative at the company. Kenan Öztürk, the union’s General President commented ‘This achievement is not only ours. It is the result of the collaboration of many trade unions under the umbrella of the Global Delivery Network of the International Transport Federation (ITF), and especially the Teamsters union in America, which represents hundreds of thousands of UPS workers in the company’s home country’.

Meanwhile, over at Istanbul airport, another Turkish union, Hava-Is, has gained recognition for 900 people employed by ground handlers ISG after a two-year battle. In May 2009, having signed up more than half the workers, the union was granted bargaining rights by the government but the company used various appeals to delay recognition on the ground while dismissing 351 Hava-IS members. Union President Atilay Ayçin said: ‘It is not the union leadership but the rank-and-file members at ISG who must be congratulated for remaining so steadfast … Our struggle will continue until all dismissed workers who are willing to be reinstated are back at work’.
Both unions envisage further negotiation ahead: Hava-IS has called on ISG management to conclude a full collective agreement while TÜMTIS intends to organise at other global delivery companies such as Fed Ex, DHL and TNT. The ITF sees the victory in Turkey, where there are few deals with multi-national companies, as a positive pointer for organising the delivery industry worldwide.

Union action in Turkey: airport workers’ protest and UPS pickets



Cash-strapped Austrian unions slow decline
LATEST FIGURES FOR TRADE UNION membership in Austria show that the long-term decline in numbers has slowed to a trickle. Some unions even increased their membership in 2010 while the overall decrease totalled 0.9%, the second lowest in the last twenty years. The GPA-djp, which organises white collar workers in the private sector, and the GÖD public sector trade union both grew while the majority of the losses were accounted for by the manufacturing sector. Although Austria has shared in the widespread reduction in membership in recent years, there was a special local factor in 2006 when a financial scandal occurred in the Bank of Employment and Commerce which was then owned by the Austrian trade union federation the ÖGB. In that year over 63,000 members resigned as the bank had to rescued by the Austrian government. The scandal hit the finances of individual unions who reduced the percentage of their membership fees going to the ÖGB from 29% to 16%. Now, to help the federation, unions have agreed to put this up to 19% and to pay an extra €15 million before 2014. Despite this the ÖGB will have to make cuts in its organisation.

Socialists boosted as woman leader triumphs in Denmark

 ANGELA MERKEL”S LONELY VIGIL AS THE ONLY woman at the EU leaders’ table is to be ended with the election of Helle Thorning-Schmidt as the new prime minister of Denmark in September. The head of the Social Democrats saw her 4-party coalition defeat the right who had been in power for ten years. Pledging to increase spending on education and infrastructure to create jobs and a more humane approach to immigration, Thorning-Schmidt, daughter-in-law of former UK Labour party leader Neil Kinnock, said ‘Tonight we've shown that the Social Democrats are still a big force in holding up society’.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt


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