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Newsletter (in English)


For solidarity with the struggle of the TEKEL workers and the remembrance of the deceased mine workers!

The head of the Turkish trade union TÜRK IS, Mustafa Kumlu, who has been an obstacle to the struggle of the TEKEL workers from the very beginning and who was thrown out of the central May Day demonstration at the Taksim square in Istanbul by workers, has declared that TÜRK IS will not participate in the general strike (“day of action”) on May 26.

This means that the participation in the general strike will be much lower than in the last day of action. It is no news that the union bureaucracy sabotages those struggles which it considers undesirable. But the struggle at TEKEL cannot be won through back room negotiations. Kumlu and his friends are obstacles to this struggle. Despite the pressure by the TEKEL workers, Kumlu and his friends have now positioned themselves openly against the struggle.

What should be done in this situation? The TEKEL workers and their union can’t win this fight with their existing forces. That is why the struggle must be expanded beyond TEKEL. For this, the demands of the TEKEL workers need to be combined with the demands of the other current workers’ struggles in Turkey and Europe.

The entire country grieves right now for 32 mine workers who were killed in a mine accident. Unfortunately, as everybody knows, this will be forgotten in two weeks’ time at the latest. Since 2002, 544 mine workers have lost their lives in Turkey. Nothing has improved since then – instead temporary employment agencies have spread and the working conditions of the mine workers have become even worse. The Turkish prime minister even declared that death was a mine worker’s fate.

The workers’ struggles in Turkey have increased sharply, especially because of the struggle at TEKEL, but also at Tar-Is, Kent-Is, Marmaray, Cemen Textil and the fire brigade. In addition, the workplace deaths in the mines and shipyards and the slow death from lung diseases as a consequence of the work in the jeans production are an every-day reality for workers in Turkey. Anyone who wants to limit the TEKEL struggle to their own forces, in reality wants the TEKEL workers to lose. Strengthening the struggle at TEKEL can only mean to combine the aforementioned struggles of the working class into one single struggle. There have already been sporadic visits and workers’ committees, but now it’s time to take the struggle to the next level.

That is why May 26 needs to be transformed immediately into a memorial day for the deceased mine workers. The workers who are already fighting need to be included as an organic part of this struggle. Also, the representatives of the fighting workers need to participate in the planning of the struggle. Unified strike committees are more necessary than ever.

If the militant May Day atmosphere continues on May 26, this can mean that the working class will start off this next phase in a more organized manner. Kumlu and his executive need to be removed from their positions as soon as possible. Workers must speak out against the board of TÜRK IS to move the TEKEL struggle forward.

  • Participate in the general strike on May 26! For solidarity with the TEKEL struggle and the remembrance of the mine workers!
  • For the formation of local and nation-wide workers’ committees!
  • Away with the 4/C laws!
  • Away with the privatizations! For the nationalization of TEKEl and all privatized companies under workers’ control!

Suphi Toprak (RIO), May 21, 2010
(Translation by Stefan Schneider, RIO Berlin)

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