Main opposition CHP slams gov’t over plans on severance pay regulation
AA photoMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has harshly criticized the Turkish government for not consulting employees over a much-debated plan to make a major change to the country’s severance payment system, which concerns millions of citizens.
Addressing his party deputies in parliament on June 6, Kılıçdaroğlu pledged his support to trade unions against the government’s plans.
“If you [government] come to terms with it, we will not object to it. If you disagree and the severance payment issue is brought to parliament forcefully, then we will use all democratic means to block it,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s speech came one day after he met with the heads and representatives of all three main trade unions confederation of the country at a workshop in Ankara.
“This is not an issue of a [union] confederation, but a problem of all employees. Thus, a common solution should be generated,” he said at the event initiated by his party, which he described as “a milestone.”
“What we say might look different but our goals are common. We shouldn’t step back from our labor,” he said.
“What unites us is democracy,” he added.
The meeting came amid a fresh debate on the severance payments, with the government announcing that it is working on a major change, which includes collecting the premiums paid for compensations in case of dismissals or retirement in private or public funds.
He said the recent decisions over employee rights or trade unions are not in line with the decisions of the Constitutional Court.
“But we are not developing a unified reaction,” he said.
“A trade union goes on strike for rights. Does this comply with the law? Yes. The Constitution? Yes. But the cabinet makes a decision and says the strike risks national security. Do workers hit the streets? No,” he said, while also criticizing 1.6 million workers for remaining silent.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the current severance payment system is also problematic as some bosses fire their employees to ease the burden and then hire them back.
However, the planned change has not been drafted and no talks have been held with the real players of the issue, he said. “You are hiding who you talk with. This is where the problem lies,” he said.
Kani Beko, the head of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), also said they were unaware of the current shape of the change.
“What the government wants to introduce under the name of ‘severance payment fund’ is the slavery of workers,” he said, adding that it was a demand from bosses and not employees.
Mahmut Arslan, head of the Confederation of Righteous Trade Unions (HAK-İŞ), said the employees should not defend the current system in reaction to the proposed changes.
“We have to sit and work on a new model,” he said, adding that some companies have been bypassing the current code.
Ergün Atalay, the head of the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ), noted unions should be self-critical for not acting in a unified manner, saying that the leaders of the four parties in parliament were not guilty, but the unions were.
“We should question ourselves. We will solve the problem when we, the heads of the three confederations, vote for the same party,” he said.