Head of Turkey’s top business association TÜSİAD resigns over 'stinky' reports
Muharrem Yılmaz speaks as he announces his resignation from TÜSİAD June 4The chairman of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), Muharrem Yılmaz, surprisingly submitted his resignation June 4 over a labor crisis in his own company. He was elected as TÜSİAD chairman during the business association’s 43rd general congress on Jan. 13, 2013.
Yılmaz explained in a press statement that he took the decision to resign to prevent claims targeting his company, Turkey’s largest dairy producer, Sütaş, from harming the larger association.
The outgoing TÜSİAD head was criticized recently after his company was hit by a workers' strike.
Amid the acrimony, union members working for Sütaş were reportedly fired, and there were also allegations that excrement from cows was discharged in a field in which strikers were organizing a demonstration on June 1.
Yılmaz, who has denied that the incident was intentional, resigned on the day that the claims were published by pro-government daily Akşam.
“The incident happened on Sunday when there was maintenance work as part of a landscaping plan. If I thought this was intentional, I would call the people to account and punish them. I would expect that the Labor Ministry would come and inspect us if there were any injustice toward our workers,” Yılmaz said.
“I am ready to shoulder any responsibility regarding this matter. But I cannot ignore the news reports targeting TÜSİAD; that is why I took the decision to resign,” he said.
Yılmaz also vowed that the company would meet with workers who were allegedly fired for their union membership.
In a separate written statement, Yılmaz said there were attempts to create a negative perception regarding TÜSİAD.
“The situation that we are experiencing today is the result of certain ill-intentioned activities aiming to exert pressure on workers to create a conflict between them and company executives, but also to create the perception that the company is against unions in order to create a conflict with the public,” the statement read.
“We cannot consider the effort to discredit TÜSİAD as something well-intended,” it added.
Yılmaz had a conflictual relationship with the government during his year-and-a-half tenure at the helm of TÜSİAD. The CEO of Sütaş has been very vocal on issues regarding rights, particularly on the government’s controversial laws restricting Internet freedoms and restructuring the judiciary. His criticisms about the corruption probe resulted in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declaring him “a traitor.”