An employee of a municipal enterprise in Istanbul has been fighting for the rights of his colleagues for months

On June 26th, worker Turan Aktaş renewed his protest in front of the building of municipal administration of Istanbul’s Şişli district, located in the center part of city. Aktaş, who works as a driver for the municipal utility company, was fired late last year after he filed a lawsuit against the municipality, insisting he and dozens of his colleagues could enjoy the same rights as other workers from the enterprise. The worker had temporarily suspended his protest – a sit in protest action, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but decided to continue it. Turan Aktaş is supported by the Workers ‘Council of Şişli district, which is part of the Revolutionary Workers’ Movement(in Turkish Devrimci İşçi Hareketi), the trade union organization of the People’s Front-Turkey. Below we present to our readers a translation of the text of a statement issued by the worker Turan Aktaş, in which he briefly describes the reasons for his protest.

I want work, bread and justice!

My name is Turan Aktaş, I am a worker in one of the enterprises of the municipal administration of the Şişli district in Istanbul. In 2015, I started working as a driver for the municipal administration, on November 6, 2019, I was fired because I sought my labor and social rights. Since then, I have been protesting in front of the building of the municipal administration of Şişli district. During this period, I was repeatedly repressed by the police and my employer.

The story of my dismissal began in 2018 when, with a decree-law issued by the president, I and hundreds of my colleagues were transferred to Kent-Yol (a utility maintenance company) owned by the municipality of Şişli district. In words, the government had promised us that, we the workers in all subcontractor companies would now be employed with permanent contracts and that our work places would be guaranteed. My colleagues and I had become trade union members at this time. All 569 workers who were transferred to the municipal enterprise could neither benefit from the rights we had with our previous employer Atlas construction company, nor could we exercise the rights that were proscribed in the contract between our previous employer and the municipal company Kent-Yol.

I and a group of my colleagues, together with trade unionists, went to meet with our new employer. We told them openly: “If you don’t give us the same rights as all the other Kent-Yol workers, we will file a lawsuit against you.” So in September 2019, I filed a lawsuit to get my rights under the law. After this move of mine, I was fired from my job. Together with representatives of the trade union of which I am a member, I began to protest in front of the building of the Şişli municipality. A few days later, my employer called me for an interview, they told me “Withdraw your lawsuit from the court, we will return you to work and give you all the rights you must have.” I decided to withdraw the lawsuit, which I was filed in the court. I waited 25 days after the municipality did nothing about our rights, in a new telephone conversation with representatives of my trade union I told them: “If they do not give us the rights, I will file a new lawsuit against them.” So I filed a new lawsuit. On November 6, 2019, I was fired again.

I do not want rights only for myself, but also for all 569 workers from Şişli municipality who were transferred from a subcontractor company, as well as for all 744 thousand workers throughout Turkey who were transferred from subcontractor companies to municipal enterprises.

The expert in the case, who inspected the Şişli municipality, found that I’m right in this case and made a report in my favor, the lawsuit continues, if I win, all workers from the municipality of Şişli district will win, and all workers transferred from subcontractor companies to municipal enterprises will also win.

I was fired because I wanted to get the same salary as my colleagues with whom we do the same job. I want back my work, my bread and my dignity. I want to live with dignity, to work with dignity, I want a future for my children! I want justice!

I will continue to fight until they are restored to their jobs. I hold my protest in the form of a sit-in strike, every day from 09:00 to 16:00, in front of the building of the municipal administration of Istanbul’s Şişli district, whose mayor was elected from the lists of Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (in Turkish Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) which promote themselves as “social-democrats” and “friends of workers”. I expect to receive support from all the friends of the workers’ struggle, and all working people.

Turan Aktaş – a worker from Şişli municipality

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