The IUF-affiliated agricultural workers’ union TARIM-IS, together with the national center TÜRK-IS and its other affiliates, have won an important victory in their campaign for improved job security and basic trade union rights. A determined mobilization including a 36-hour rally in Ankara’s central square on May 15-16 helped focus national attention on the impact of Turkey’s agreements with the IMF in destroying jobs and undermining employment security. Among the union demands set out in a statement entitled “No to the IMF – Jobs for the Unemployed – Job Security for Workers” were the call for a comprehensive review of the 1999 IMF standby and other agreements, enactment of the proposed Job Security Act, and the inclusion of agricultural and forestry workers within the scope of the Labour Act. The IUF 24th Congress sent a solidarity message to the unions involved.
The unions kept up the pressure on political representatives and, on August 15, union-backed amendments to the 1936 Labour Act were adopted by Parliament which bring job security provisions into line with ILO Conventions and, for the first time, bring agricultural workers within the scope of national labour law, effective March 15 next year. Despite a last-minute attack on the bill which succeeded in limiting coverage to agricultural enterprises with less than 50 employees, the unions view the new legislation as an important step forward and a basis for future gains.