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The Turkish army has played a major role as custodians of the state since the beginning of the republic. These interventions have taken various forms, and even in the course of the periods of normalization of military-civilian relations, the concept of national security has strongly influenced the trade unions and the labor policies as a whole.
Although the principal objective of trade unions has been defending the employment and the livelihoods of workers, and to build a better working environment in the workplace in general, trade union organizations have historically been organized and functioned under the shadow of national security related concerns in Turkey.
As we discuss in this paper, even though the trade union movement originated in the post war era, and started to become a stable force in the social and political scene, the Turkish labor movement has been dominated by state concerns over national security, and the level of freedom enjoyed by organized labor has been limited.
In our work, we addressed the outcome of the national security concerns over the organization efforts of the trade unions, and display how these interventions interrupted the development of the trade unions since the legalization of the labor movement in In the contemporary world, trade union movements have weakened considerably due to transformations in production methods and production management on a global scale.
These transformations have also had a profound impact on the trade union movement in Turkey, but the latter has also been subject to sui generis historical circumstances which have led it to acquire characteristics different from those in other countries. From the perspective of democratization, it is clear that this perception remains an obstacle to achieving positive changes in the sphere of rights and freedoms.
It is also found as a criterion of delimitation in supra-national documents Documents such as the European Convention on Human Rights article 8 and protocols 4 and 7. Building on this concept, the Constitution established a committee named the National Security Council previously the National Defense High Committee , which was authorized to determine threats to national security. In the future, this threat perception would be the subject of such a wide interpretation that it would encompass social, cultural and economic fields.
As is widely known, instead of influencing legislation, the Turkish labor movement has mainly been the product of it. The state has tried to control unions through legal arrangements, and therefore the legislation process has had vital significance for the labor movement since its inception. This article examines how the national security concept came to be utilized by civilian rulers to control the labor movement and to hinder basic trade union activities such as strike.
Among other aspects that condition the dynamics that shape unionism, martial law and the restrictions it puts on the use of collective rights and freedoms will be examined.
Internal and external threats introduced similar perceptions in the late Ottoman period, triggering emergency measures such as martial law and the founding of institutions with emergency powers; as a result, the country took on the characteristics of a national security state. This article thus begins by investigating the developments in the last years of Ottoman state.
However, it will not go into detail about the national security perceptions of the Ottoman state, which resulted from the defeats, external threats, national revolts, and dismemberment the Ottoman state faced in its last years. To analyze the history of Turkey in an historical perspective, three eras will be evaluated in detail: the liberation era from to , the foundation era from the declaration of the Republic in to World War II and the multi-party era.
The Ottoman state was occupied and in financial crisis, the Istanbul government was suspended, and most of the army had been disbanded. The new parliament founded in Ankara in enacted many laws and established a number of institutions that were given emergency powers to overcome this state of emergency, setting in motion developments that turned the state into a national security state.
It proclaimed martial law, and created institutions such as special military organizations the Mobile Gendarmerie Detachments and the Military Police Organization , Independence Courts, the Supreme Military Command, Military Inspectorships, and General Inspectorships, some of which were inherited from the Ottoman state.
First, the cadres who built the military and civil bureaucracies of Republican regime were composed of people who experienced both World War I and the Turkish War of Independence. Because of the traumatizing effect of the long wartime years, these cadres continually felt the necessity for security and for preventing the trauma from happening again.
The second reason involves the revolutionary process that began with the declaration of the Republic. The Sheikh Said revolt , which occurred in the first years of Republic, fed this security perception; additionally, the economic depression of the s, World War II, and the ensuing Cold War kept it alive. In the last decades of the Ottoman Empire and the first decades of the Republic, however, the state bureaucracy continuously took safety measures for such a long time period that its heightened sense of emergency gradually became normalized.
The state had entered a new period in with the declaration of the Constitutional Monarchy. Article of the new Constitution authorized the government to proclaim and implement martial law if there were signs of insurrection in any part of the country. Becausetrade unions were not in existence, the labor movement was highly limited and workers could only organize under the name of charities and association.
By reaching out to large segments of workers, the trade union movement leapt forward both quantitatively and qualitatively. Workers entertained the hope that they would prosper through the new regime, and consequently organized strikes in many sectors in which tens of thousands of workers participated.
However, the environment of freedom for the emerging labor movement came to an end shortly after, when the government took measures to forestall the strike actions that were sweeping the country.
The CUP used the martial law powers that it retained from to as a tool to clear the way for the capitalist relations of production that the committee wanted to establish in the economic sphere Kansu The Strike Law lasted into the Republican era and remained in force until the Labor Act was enacted in Since the Strike Law prohibited unions, workers tried to circumvent the ban by organizing in the form of associations, which were regulated by the Law of Associations enacted in Under the extraordinary circumstances of wartime, Turkey witnessed the inclusion of the Chief of General Staff in the Cabinet as a minister.
In addition to martial law, the emergency conditions led to new state institutions with exceptional power, and extraordinary laws left their mark on state-society relations. The Law of Treason, 3 The Law of Supreme Military Command, 4 which gave temporary exceptional powers to Mustafa Kemal Pasha, and the Law of Independence Courts 5 are the most striking examples of laws enacted under wartime circumstances.
Also, most of the legal regulations enacted in the last period of the Ottoman state were incorporated into the legislation of the Republican era.
For example, the Independence Courts were originally established for preventing desertion in the army, but they undertook a different mission in the Republican era, when they were used as an important tool for protecting the new regime and its reforms. The activities of the original Independence Courts came to an end on 1 August In addition, on the same day, Parliament created two Independence Courts — one in the martial law region and one in Ankara.
Interestingly, the Ankara court also investigated political and petty offenses committed outside the region of rebellion. Although rights like unionization, the right to strike, and collective bargaining were absent in the Constitution, relying on Article 79, which legitimized the freedoms of contract, labor, property, assembly, establishing associations and partnerships, labor organizations were founded in cities where industrialization was advancing.
Previously founded labor organizations also had the opportunity to organize and express their demands more freely; they even had the opportunity to strike. Various leftist organizations began to support this developing labor movement through their publications and activities. Some telegraph workers who went on strike for increased wages were sent to Independence Courts; other labor organizations were disbanded. Consequently, the Republic of Turkey has been in a constant state of emergency from its inception until This point should be underlined when seeking to understand the location of the trade union movement in Turkish democracy.
Institutions with exceptional power, political and constitutional regulations, and periods of martial law and states of emergency lasted more than years, and shaped the labor and trade union movements to a great extent. The implementation of state capitalism enhanced the impact of the bureaucracy Kazgan Many codes granting exceptional authority to the government for regulating the economic and social sphere were enacted during this period. The new law brought even stricter regulation than the Ottoman Strike Law that it replaced.
Finally, the Associations Law [ Cemiyetler Kanunu ] enacted in forbid class-based associations, depriving workers of the opportunity of establishing labor association and trade unions.
This law aimed to intervene in the relations of production, and thereby to make it possible to adjust relations of production in order to boost agricultural production and meet the requirements of the war.
For example, citizens could be burdened with compulsory labor for a fee, or the working hours of the workers could be unilaterally raised Timur In the justification for the law, it was stated that it was necessary to enable a strict and efficient control over the merchant, industrialist and tradesman coteries who failed to heed the common good. According to the law, the inspection and control of this class, which was to be recruited into these chambers, was to be carried out by the Ministry of Trade Timur This conjuncture would later lead to the foundation of the Democrat Party DP during the transition to the multiparty system Timur The Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June and with it was understood that the world system was shifting in favor of democratic regimes.
Turkish-American rapprochement resulting from economic and military aid also influenced the internal politics of Turkey. In fact, the UN member states had expected that Turkey should alter its regime to democracy as a signing party. One of the important impacts of this was the transition to a multiparty political system. The effects of the shifts and transformations in this period on the labor movement would prove to be great.
The prohibition on founding associations based on class, which was regulated by the Associations Law of , was lifted in as the result of the influence of the international conjuncture, and subsequently many labor unions were established. Beginning from , these liberal developments gave way to new arrangements that would meet the requirements of the Cold War.
Although there was no law prohibiting the formation of socialist parties, the socialist parties founded at that time and the labor unions which were associated with them were prohibited.
This became possible thanks to the martial law in Istanbul, which was prolonged on 4 December for another six months. Thus, although the war was over, martial law continued because of of the possibility of going to war. This era introduced a new kind of democracy, but martial law practices amputated its left wing.
This law was enacted to regulate the activities of unions that emerged as a result of the amendments to the Associations Law, and it prohibited their political activities. The prohibition on the right to strike was still in force. According to the Minister of Labor, who declared that they would not allow class struggles, the strike was a measure implemented in liberal regimes, but because Turkey was a statist regime, the government had to play the role of arbitrator in the conflict among social classes TBMM Minutes ; Ekin Although the Democrat Party DP declared in its campaign speeches and party program that the right of strike would be adopted, this prohibition remained in force during the period of DP rule, during which the exigencies of the Cold War were at the forefront of attention 11 Makal Opponents from unions and intellectual circles reacted strongly to this repression, and students organized protest marches in Istanbul and Ankara.
All of these developments raised social unrest, and the tension between the actors of the regime deepened. At last, the experiment of multiparty competition was interrupted by the military coup on 27 May Our main principle is the access of our very revered people, fellow citizens and workers, to democracy, assurance of their rights and freedoms, and development of their economic welfare. It is essential that citizens live fraternally and peacefully in their private affairs and in any kind of working places.
Moreover, it gained constitutional characteristic through an assembly with the same name, and further shaped Turkish politics through subsequent constitutions and laws. The tendency for the military and civil bureaucracy, and, most of the time, governments, to consider all democratic right demands and problems from the perspective of national security has had the effect of weakening Turkish democracy.
Together with rights of labor, protection of children, the young and women, recreation, fair wages, social security, union rights bestowed to all wage-earners, the Constitution also recognized the rights of collective labor bargaining and strike. The law provided the Council of Ministers with the power to postpone strikes in cases deemed contrary to national security, and during periods of martial law, the right to strike was subject to the permission of the martial law commanders.
Strikes were not permitted in regions where martial law was proclaimed. Civilian authorities took part in curbing these rights by consecutively prolonging martial law once it had been proclaimed. The declaration of martial law after the second coup attempt of Colonel Talat Aydemir is an example of this.
Although the attempt failed and all the actors of the coup were caught and arrested, the one-month martial law in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir was prolonged for five months in Izmir, and extended seven times in Ankara and Istanbul for a total of fifteen months.
Bearing in mind that these cities were industrialized, it appeared that the fate of workers and trade-union movement was left to the mercy of martial law commanders. These martial law commanders sustained the struggle against the socialist-oriented parties that might possibly lead labor movements. The democratic rights stipulated in the Constitution were widely used in that period. It adopted a policy of economic and political struggle in the name of the working class, and did not abstain from conflict with government, employers and competitor trade-unions.
The Constitution was seen as the cause of the disturbances, and debates over the need for amendment of the constitution were constantly on the agenda. The objective of this amendment was to weaken or even prohibit trade unions that were in conflict with the government. One of the important characteristics of this mass action was that, except for a few public corporations, it was conducted entirely by workers from the private sector.
A new government was formed without the existing parties on 26 March , and soon after proclaimed martial law in eleven provinces Official Gazette, After this, an extraordinary interim regime brought serious restrictions on basic rights and freedoms granted by the Constitution.
Law number September 20, imposed new delimitation criteria by amending Article 11 of the Constitution, where the essence of the basic rights was defined. The right to be a member of trade unions for civil servants was abolished by an amendment to Article
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