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Farmers have the right to form a confederation in Turkey

22 January 2013

Republic of Turkey Supreme Court pronounced in favor of Farmer Unions’ Confederation of Turkey (Ciftci-SEN)

TURKISH SUPREME COURT’S VERDICT: FARMERS HAVE A RIGHT TO FORM A CONFEDERATION The General Jurisdiction Court of Ankara No.1 has previously decided on the closure of Farmer Unions’ Confederation of Turkey (Ciftci-SEN) stating that it does not have the qualities of a labor or employer union and thus it is not possible for farmers to establish a union. Following the appeal made to Supreme Court by Ciftci-SEN, the hearing on the case was held on 27 November 2011 and Supreme Court has announced its decision on 11 January 2013. In its decree, Republic of Turkey Supreme Court has stated that there are no national laws which impede the unionization of farmers in the form of confederation and by also referring to the international agreements guaranteeing the farmers’ right to unionize, the Supreme Court have reversed the judgment on the closure of the Confederation. “After this decree, farmers will start to organize themselves village-by-village, province-by-province. Until today, ongoing court case on the closure of our Confederation has caused serious legal obstacles that stood in the way of our unionization. Yet with its verdict the Supreme Court has recognized the fact that our rights which stem from international laws should also be included in national laws. The self-organization of farmers cannot be prevented. We will continue our struggle against the obstruction of farmers’ rights and the dissolution of small scale peasant agriculture which leaves small farmers jobless and breadless,” stated Abdullah Aysu, the President of Farmer Unions’ Confederation of Turkey. Tobacco Producers’ Union (Tütün-SEN) Case Won As Well “Last Friday we also had other good news regarding the court case on the closure of the Tobacco Producers Union (Tütün-SEN). The Supreme Court decided that Tütün-SEN cannot be closed. Moreover the Supreme Court’s overruling decree on the closure of Ciftci-SEN, the umbrella institution of Tütün-SEN, is a historic gain for farmers. As such tobacco producers also gained the right to form a confederation. From now on, our duty is to accelerate the struggle and to gain the economic and social rights of farmers,” commented Ali Bülent Erdem, the Secretary-General of Ciftci-SEN. Following the reversal of the judgment made by the Supreme Court of Appeal, Fevzi Özlüer, attorney of Ciftci-SEN, stated that “The Supreme Court decided along the lines of our demands. Millions of agricultural workers in Turkey practice farming as their profession. These workers are not like workers in a factory in the classical sense. However with this decree, their right to establish a union or a union confederation to protect their interests became guaranteed by law.” Our Legal Gains Must Also Be Protected in National Laws Abdullah Aysu, the President of Ciftci-SEN, added that there is an urgent need for a domestic legal arrangement to implement the Supreme Court’s decree. Farmers’ rights must have a legal basis as soon as possible. He continued that “As member unions forming the Farmer Unions’ Confederation, our raison d’être is enhancing the rights and freedoms of tea, tobacco, cereal, hazelnut, olive and grape producers, animal breeders and all other producers. Mobilizing women and men producers, gathering them for a common cause and reaching a joyful and humane level of living remain as targets for agricultural producers and humanity as a whole. In order to realize the full potential of social security and social equality, we need to tackle all sorts of exploitation, defend the economic and social rights of rural workers and improve their social, economic and political cultures. We will continue our struggle both as Confederation and as member unions in defense of the farmers’ right to bargain collectively, against unemployment and health risks, and for other related activities written in our charter. We dedicate this achievement to all workers in Turkey and abroad.” Farmer Unions’ Confederation of Turkey, Bureau of Media and Information E-mail: ciftcisen@gmail.com Mobile number (Abdullah Aysu): +90 5322640624

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