Airline staff start indefinite strike
Hundreds of flights at Atatürk Airport were canceled as a result of a labor action against a legislation that bans strikes in the aviation industry.
Members of Turkey’s Civil Aviation Trade Union (Hava-İş) are planning to launch indefinite action against new legislation approved yesterday which would prohibit strikes on Turkish Airlines, according to labor leaders.
“We will continue with protests everyday between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. at [Istanbul’s] Atatürk Airport,” Hava-İş President Atilay Ayçin said yesterday, adding that the national carrier had terminated the contracts of 300 cabin personnel who participated in a slowdown strike on May 29.
Hundreds of domestic and international flights were canceled on May 29 and May 30 due to the slowdown strike, in which 350 personnel used their right to decline to work a flight by saying they were “not ready to fly.”
Turkish Airlines said the action was illegal.
“Our action is legal, but our colleagues were laid off in an illegal way. They were informed via text message. We will fight for their rights to the end,” Ayçin was quoted as saying by Doğan news agency, noting that they had filed criminal complaints against the carrier.
The laid-off personnel will also be informed in an official manner, said Turkish Airlines Press Secretary Ali Genç, according to daily Radikal. Text messages and emails are only cautionary notices and do not constitute formal terminations of labor contracts, he told the daily, adding that 154 flights were canceled on the first day of strike and 69 on the second day.
The slowdown strike caused $2 million in losses, a company press release said, adding that the company will sue trade union executives to retrieve economic damage. The statement also said that a total of 45 workers at Turkish Airlines Technic had been laid off.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ defended the legislation prohibiting the strike, which was part of a wider omnibus bill.
“There may be exemptions [to sectors that are permitted to strike] in all countries in strategic matters, institutions and works,” he said on the sidelines of Istanbul’s Somalia Conference.