THY labor action disrupts traffic at Atatürk Airport
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Passengers wait in long queues at Atatürk Airport after a labor action by THY staff. DHA photo
Turkish Airlines cabin personnel went on a slowdown strike yesterday to protest a draft law banning strikes at the airline.
A total of 104 flights, both domestic and international, were cancelled as a result of the strike at Atatürk Airport, where Turkish Airlines conducts between 400 and 450 flights a day, an official from the press secretariat of the carrier told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. Dozens of other flights were delayed.
Turkey Civil Aviation Trade Union (Hava-İş) called upon its members to participate in a slowdown strike by calling in to work as “not feeling ready for flight,” from 3 a.m. to midnight May 29, as the draft law was put on Parliament’s agenda.
Officials of Turkish Airlines warned employees telling that their contracts of those who attended the strike would be cancelled without compensation, Doğan news agency reported.
Cabin personnel gathered late at night on May 28 and attempted to prevent strike-breakers from working flights, according to the Doğan news agency. Some 200 workers from Turkish Technic, an aircraft maintenance and repair services division of Turkish Airlines, put down their tools and joined the strike in solidarity with cabin personnel.
“There has never been a strike ban in the history of our country in aviation services. Even the most undeveloped countries do not have a strike ban in [the] aviation [sector]. But an article has been added to the omnibus bill proposal banning the right to strike, which is a very basic constitutional, democratic and universal worker right, submitted to the Parliament by some 10 [ruling] Justice and Development Party deputies,” Kaya Sayın, organization secretary of Hava-İş, said yesterday at a press meeting at Atatürk Airport.
Turkish Airlines has been blocking collective agreements for 18 months while Turkish Technic has been doing the same for 12 months now, said Sayın. “It is not fair to play with the rights of 14,000 workers or 50,000 people including family members,” he said. He called on deputies to remove this injustice by dropping the related article.
Turkish Airlines management called some employees to inform them that their labor contract had been cancelled, Mustafa Yağcı, general secretary of Hava-İş, told Hurriyet.com.tr.
The strike action will continue indefinitely if even one colleague is harmed, he said.
Reaction by Turkish Airlines
Hava-İş President Atilla Ayçin said nearly 1,000 workers participated in the labor action.
Turkish Airlines in a written statement yesterday deemed the action illegal.
“Our friends are using their constitutional rights. If the employer enters into illegal ways, the planes the Turkish Airlines have bought will blow up in their faces. They will not be able to carry out even one flight. They should respect workers’ basic constitutional rights,” he said.
The management of Turkish Airlines argued that personnel abused the right to decline to work a flight by pleading “not feeling ready for flight” as part of their strike, said Chief Pilot Bahadır Altan, one of the public speakers of the Rainbow Movement, an oppositional workers organization to the trade union. “This is self-defense. We support the action,” he said.
Meanwhile, the website of the Turkish Airlines was hacked yesterday, said Transport and Communication Minister Binali Yıldırım.
Süleyman Çelebi, an Istanbul depuy of opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a former unionist, called on the government to stop the draft. “Workers will defend their rights to the end if their basic insurance, the right to strike, is defrauded.