Turkish government seeks ‘flexible’ labor act

The Turkish government has met some of the country’s main unions on Thursday ahead of planned major labor-law reforms.

Ahead of proposed changes to Turkish law which would allow private employment agencies to create temporary working relations, Ali Kemal Sayin, deputy undersecretary from the ministry of labor, told the Istanbul University conference: “[Turkey’s] job market needs flexibility; rigid rules cause negativity.”

Sayin said that the law change was needed to harmonize with directives from the European Union and International Labor Organization.

He also said that the new law would also lead to a decline in the number of unregistered employed, because bosses would easily hire workers for the short-term through private agencies.

Esra Belen, a labor specialist from the Confederation of Employer Unions of Turkey (TISK), announced the group’s support for the bill, saying “reform was critical to the job market in Turkey”.

Belen also claimed that the regulation would strengthen the competitiveness of Turkish companies in the international arena.

However, some workers’ bodies such as the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) and the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TURK-IS) strongly disapprove of the new regulation.

Tevfik Gunes, job safety manager for DISK, said that Turkish people work the longest hours out of 14 OECD countries.

While Gunes was claiming that working conditions would be worse if the bill comes into force, TURK-IS’s Mehmet Cetin claimed that the proposed system – which he described as “slavery” – was against the European Convention on Human Rights.

DISK and TURK-IS have both announced that they are against the proposed law in its current form.

Turkey’s parliament prepared a draft law in February which would allow for the establishment of private employment agencies.

These agencies would be permitted to create temporary working relations between employees and employers, with the consequence of making it easier to hire and fire.

Turkey’s notable labor and employer unions have been also invited to the preparation process in parliament.

DISK, consisting of 22 labor unions with over 100,000 members, has already organized campaigns and protests against the law in Istanbul and Ankara.

These groups have claimed that new labor act would cause the break-up of the Turkish job market, saying workers would be employed in lowered standards with less pay.