The Strike At Türk Telekom

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The Real Political Issue in Turkey Today

The current strike of 26.000 telecommunication workers at Türk Telecom demonstrates clearly what the real political issues are in Turkey for the working class today. While the Government tries to raise interest in the referendum, and its continual wars in the South East, the working class has posed the question very clearly. For us the real issue in Turkey today is workers' salaries.

The representatives of the bourgeoisie are very clear on this point. If anybody has missed it, Paul Doany, CEO of Türk Telekom spells it out ‘No employee can expect an increase above inflation'. What they mean by this is that they would like every employee to receive an increase below inflation, and this means that every employee receives a pay cut.

The real issue today is whether workers organised together can try to stop the continual attacks on living conditions that have taken place over the last ten years. For the communists, and for all workers this is the most important issue today.

Slanders Against Workers From All Sides

Of course everyone expects that the capitalist papers will attack the workers. There will continue to be stories in the press like the one about the sad death of Aysel Tosun[1]. One of the things that we do find strange though is how political commentators can get so upset about one death when enthusiastically supporting the preparations for war in the South East.

What many will not be expecting is the language coming from ‘their' union leaders. Ali Akçan, President of Haber-İs[2] was quick to join the owners in condemnation of workers' acts of sabotage "This is slander. Our union has nothing to do with any of these incidents. Let them find those responsible, and we will punish them together". The strike is but a few days old, and already the unions are offering to act alongside the police in attacking militant workers. For us the issue is clear, we support the struggles of the working class to defend its living conditions, and if that means cutting a few telephone cables that means cutting a few telephone cables. Those who run to join the management in condemning workers are showing whose side they are on.

Whose side are the unions on?

The question is whether we should find ourselves surprised by the position of ‘our' leaders. After all of the militant talk last year, the only action for coming from KESK[3] was one day of ‘not working'. The unions see their role as one of promoting social peace, and submission to the bosses. At the end of the THY[4] strike Salih Kılıç said that "I am honored to put my signature under this contract". Oğuz Satıcı, chairman of Turkish Exporters Assembly expressed the position of the capitalists perfectly "Wisdom and conscious won, Turkey got the best". We say that after a decade of defeat it is time for workers in this country to stop putting Turkey first, and to start to put their own living conditions first. When the bosses say that "Turkey got the best", they mean that the Turkish bourgeoisie got the best. And that means that the workers got screwed. Anyone who is ‘honoured' to sign the documents confirming this is a class enemy.

The Way Forward

If workers can't trust their ‘own' trade unions who can they trust? The answer is similar to that old nationalist proverb. The only friend of the worker is another worker. Workers at Telecom must form committees to control their own strike, and not leave it in the hands of the unions, who will be ‘honoured' to sell them to the bosses. Many workers across Turkey want to struggle. The willingness of THY, and Public employees to fight was shown earlier this year. Today Telekom workers stand proudly at the head of the Turkish working class. It is up not only to them but also to all workers to make sure that they don't stand alone. We say to support Telekom strikers, all workers must fight against wage cuts in real terms at their own workplaces.

Devrim


[1] A woman who allegedly died because of the strike

[2] The Main Telecommunication Workers Union

[3] The Leftist Public Workers Union

[4] Turksih Airlines