Kongress 2024: de internationella gästernas tal

Publicerad: 2024-05-29

Under Fackförbundet STs kongress deltog två internationella gäster. Osman Isci, som arbetar som International Relations Officer på turkiska Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK) och Yurii Pizhuk, ordförande för statstjänstemannafackförbundet i Ukraina, höll var sitt tal.

Osman Isci, Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK)

Dear colleagues of ST,

Dear Britta Lejon,

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for your kind invitation. It is a huge honour to be with you here at your congress. I brought the warm regards of the whole KESK family members to you.

KESK and ST are sister unions. Your congress slogan represents our common values: Together we build a sustainable work life and a democratic society. The ties and bonds between us are strong and deep. We share the same value of trade union rights and democracy.

KESK is a confederation that organizes public services and has 180.000 members in all public sectors. We are the voice of all public employees, about 3.5 million, and of the democratic society. KESK is the first confederation in the public sector. Our leaders created the confederation even before there was a law on public trade unions. We created our confederation in streets thus being an active union is in our DNA. KESK and its members are always in streets and mobilise public employees and democratic forces in general. KESK defends quality public services for all. It must be free and in mother tongue so that it can be inclusive.

Our activities are driven by three main principles: labour rights, democracy, and peace. We strongly believe that we can build a better society through realizing these principles.

Labour rights: Turkey is driven by neo-liberal policies that serve to capitalism. There is no respect for workers’ rights and trade union rights. Economic policies aim to make rich people richer so that poor people are getting poorer and poorer. As you can easily imagine, poor people are the workers and public employees.

The government recently announced a package to save money from the public sector. Although the title “savings” seems fancy, we are fully aware of the one fact that it targets our wage, which is already too low, and working conditions that are far from decent working conditions.

When the government announced this package, we immediately responded and organized public gatherings. We will continue to fight against this package, which is an austerity package.

In addition, we have problems with joining the public sector: security investigations and interviews. These tools rely on loyalty rather than eligibility. These tools are in line with the ruling party’s, AKP, monist mentality.

Similarly, dismissed colleagues still suffer from various problems. 7 years passed since our colleagues were unjustly dismissed during the state of emergency. We actively support these colleagues.

To protest the government’s policies and to defend our values, KESK takes streets. However, we face police intervention and judicial harassment. These problems are related to the democratic standards in the country. 

This is why Democracy is our second value: In a society that respects citizens’ rights and freedoms, exercising freedom of assembly or expression will be totally ok. This is not our case. The government maintains repressive policies and practices that is why we face judicial harassment. SES colleagues were in prison for more than 1,5 years still face charges. Similarly, journalists, human rights defenders are in prison. We are the champion country in this respect. Even oppositional politicians and MPs are in prison. Kobane trial is the last example of judicial harassment of activists: People’s democratic party (HDP) leaders were imprisoned up to 400 years for issuing a statement against ISIS’s siege over Kobane, the Kurdish city in Syria.

There is no respect for the Constitution or the ECtHR judgements. The government, in fact the State, feels comfortable with ignoring such judgements. Arbitrariness, impunity, and monist mentality are three key terms to explain the State’s approach to our democratic rights. Public authorities arbitrarily violate our rights because they are sure that they will be protected and violating our rights serve to their ultimate goal: creating a society that relies on monist structure. 

Peace: There is no space for diversity. If there is no space for diversity there is no peace. Turkey, like other societies, has dozens of ethnic and religious groups. However, the constitution says there is one nation, one language etc. The key document denies our existence. As you know that there has been a Kurdish Issue for a long period. There is an armed conflict for more than 4 decades. The government allocates huge amounts of budgets to the defence industry every year. This money is directed from fundamental public services. As a result, public employees cannot get a decent wage and have to work harder. Lack of staff is a persistent problem. This approach also deteriorates quality of public services and citizens cannot receive public services as they should. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) there is an overall increase in expenditures for arms trade and reached 2.4 trillon USD. Turkey spent 15.8 billion USD and is the 22nd country regarding the budget for the arms trade in the world.

Whenever there is war, we know that it is not good for anyone particularly workers. Therefore, defending peace is one of our essential characteristics. KESK defends peace and struggles for peace everywhere particularly Turkey.

Women’s rights are another important pillar of our struggle. KESK has a structure that our women leaders shaped and decided. The co-presidency system is an essential structure to ensure equal representation and to share power. The women’s secretary is in charge of all gender related issues. The women’s assembly serves as the legislative body of the women structure within the confederation. We have another assembly that is composed of men and women. The point is: the women assembly can object to a decision adopted by the general assembly while the general assembly cannot object to a decision adopted by the women’s assembly. In this respect, our cooperation with ST is highly important and useful for us: the joint project is about gender equality. It is a relevant and timely topic since the Government withdrew its signature from the Istanbul Convention. It has not ratified the ILO C.190. There are three femicide cases every day. Violence and sexual harassment are common in public life including workplaces.

All these values are intermingled: when there is no peace, there is no budget. Then, we as workers take streets to protest low budget for fundamental public services and demand better wage. Since there are no democratic standards, our democratic actions are repressed by the government. It is a like a vicious circle.

Finally, I cannot thank enough our dear colleagues who make huge efforts. Karin and Magnus are also KESK members. They are more than a bridge between our unions. In the beginning of my speech, I said the ties and bonds between are strong. It is time to the make these ties and bonds stronger. It is time to work more.

Long live ST!

Long live KESK!

Loıng live our joint struggle for a more demoractic society and sustainable work life! 

Yurii Pizhuk, ordförande för statstjänstemannaförbundet i Ukraina

Dear brothers and sisters, participants of the Congress!

It is extremely valuable that today I have the opportunity to adress you on the day of your Congress.

We live in difficult times, times of change, struggle and perhaps the greatest test of democracy in history.

I represent a country that today is the shield of democracy on the battlefield. We fight for our own freedom and the right to live freely, and for this we pay with the lives of our fellow citizens and being constantly under threat.

But our solidarity not only helps us to remain on the defense of our union members, but also allows us to continue our fight for democracy itself and its values!

We have common goals, a common vision for the representation and protection of labor, social and economic rights and interests of employees.

Over all the years of our cooperation, we have become a real family!

Your experience has become our road map in achieving these goals.

One of the most effective directions of our cooperation is the implementation of our joint educational projects, which over the past two decades has allowed:

  • covered of the trade union education more than 50,000 trade union members
  • create a trade union education center "Basis" 
  • to open the Laboratory of Social Dialogue 
  • organize the trade union's trainers network. 

And most importantly, thanks to our joint work, we help our union members to realize themselves as part of the "European democratic trade union space".

You had stand together with us when full-scale invasion  had started. Thank you for the gift of the union bus, which helped to deliver aid to our union members in the "hottest" places.

Thanks to the efforts of your trade union members, we in Ukraine were able to help our trade union members, all people who suffered from the war.

Thanks to our cooperation, today we support the youth, the future of our trade union movement. We teach young people European approaches to trade union work.

I wish all the delegates and participants of the Congress fruitful work, effort and new achievements for building a common European home, prosperity and well-being.

Together we build a stable working life and a democratic society!

Fackförbundet ST

Box 5308

102 47 Stockholm

Besök: Sturegatan 15

Telefon: 0771-555 444

E-post: st@st.org

Orgnr: 802003-2101

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