Turkey: Unionised workers call general strike as mass protests reach more than 67 cities

June 4, 2013 -- Real News Network -- Today the uprisings witnessed a new development, when Turkey's Confederation of Public Workers Unions, KESK, consisting of 11 unions and approximately 240,000 members, declared their decision to stage a massive two-day strike. The action, which was originally planned for a later date in response to labor law modifications, was rescheduled to June 4 now, in response to the government's excessive use of police brutality and its increasingly undemocratic practices. For the full transcript, click HERE.

More than 1000 detained as protests spread

June 3, 2013 -- Democracy Now! -- Turkey is seeing its biggest wave of protests against the government in many years. Tens of thousands of people rallied across the country June 2 for a third consecutive day. The unrest erupted last week when thousands of people converged at Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The protests have grown to include grievances against the government on a range of issues, and protesters have managed to remain despite a heavy police crackdown, including tear gas and rubber bullets. The Turkish government says around 1000 people have been detained at more than 200 protests nationwide. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the uproar as the work of political opponents and "extremists", vowing to proceed with governments plans to remake Taksim Square. For the full transcript, click HERE.

Turkey: Unions call general strike, appeal for support

June 5, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Turkey’s government, facing a continuing wave of public protest, which began when the authorities brutally repressed a May Day rally at Taksim Square, must end the confrontation with its own people, and release detained trade unionists, the International Trade Union Confederation and its Global Unions partners said.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The anti-union actions of the Turkish government are now spreading into a general confrontation with people who simply want the government to listen and cease repressing legitimate dissent. Prime Minister Erdogan should release the many trade unionists, journalists and others the government is holding in detention for no good reason, and open up to dialogue.”

National trade union centres KESK and DISK have launched a general strike in response to the government’s repression. There are 72 KESK members on trial since June last year on manufactured charges under anti-terrorism laws

DISK has joined with the ITUC in a global campaign to press for the release of those arrested and the lifting of all bans on meetings and demonstrations.

The DISK's Kıvanc Eliacık said in Equal Times: “[The DISK] protests the construction work in Taksim Square, Istanbul, that will demolish the park there, replacing it with a shopping centre.

“When I heard that bulldozers came and cut the trees in the park on Tuesday, I ran to the park. Instead of shutting down the illegal construction – the court revoked the construction project – the police used tear gas against people who want to save the trees.

“On that first night, we took tents and sleeping bags and went to the park. We sang and chatted till dawn. In the evening, thousands of people were gathered. A concert took place on a stage.

“We were discussing urban regeneration, environmental destruction, human rights and workers’ rights. The highlight of all these discussions was that they are all the result of government policies. An ever-changing and growing committee was established.”

Eliacık explained: “People from various views came together: people and workers on strike from regions that have been harmed by corporate and government greed; football fans; radical left parties; student organisations; feminists; anarchists; and vegans ...

“The government’s new alcohol regulations [prohibiting the sale of alcohol in shops between 22.00 and 06.00, and stopping new bars from opening within 100 metres of schools and mosques] converted drinking to a political action. People were chanting slogans, on the other hand they were singing songs, and drinking ...

“Thousands of women and men who have not participated in a political demonstration before clashed with the police till late at night. The entered a new demonstration without event having breakfast. With their home-made gas masks they revolted against the police sometimes by singing, sometimes by swearing ...

“There were people from Muslim associations and socialist parties -- everyone standing shoulder to shoulder.”

Eliacık said: “For the past five days, a growing number of demonstrators are having fun and demonstrating at the same time without sleeping or resting. The most common slogan chanted by the protestors is 'Resign Government!'

“Police violence is not driving us away. Fear has been defeated now. We have learned to raise our voice when we are angry.”

[Click here to sign LabourStart's statement in defence of trade union and democratic rights in Turkey.]