No guarantee of rights

Same as last year


Turkey is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

  • Repression of strikes

  • Arrests of trade unionists

  • Systematic union-busting

In 2022, workers’ freedoms and rights continued to be relentlessly denied with police crackdowns on protests. Trade union leaders were arbitrarily arrested and their homes raided. On May Day 2021, 212 demonstrators were detained in Istanbul for attempting to hold a protest in defiance of the government’s strict coronavirus lockdown rules.

In addition, employers continued to engage in systematic union-busting by methodically dismissing workers who attempted to organise.

Workers' rights violations


In June 2021, fifty-four workers of the ASD Laminat Factory in Düzce, Turkey, were dismissed as a result of their membership in the Turkish Wood and Paper Industry Workers’ Union (AGAC-IS). The company refused to recognise the union and resorted to union-busting schemes, such as arbitrarily dismissing unionists and pressuring other workers to renounce their union membership. After a four-year legal battle, a local court ruled in favour of the workers’ reinstatement earlier this year. However, the company continued to defy the court’s decision and intensified its anti-union practices. On 30 June, it started dismissing workers immediately after the pandemic “lay-off ban” was lifted. As of 14 July 2021, another 19 workers had been fired.

Violent attacks on workers

In the early days of January 2022, workers at Farplas automotive factory in Kocaeli province, Turkey, demanded a wage increase. Finding insufficient the pay rise offer made on 19 January, the workers halted work at the factory in protest, and the employer started negotiating with the United Metalworkers' Union, promising that no workers would be dismissed in this process. While production resumed the next day, the employer summarily dismissed nearly 150 workers, both members and non-members of the union, referring to their one-day strike as justification for their dismissal. In protest, the dismissed workers of Farplas decided to strike inside the factory. Police stormed the Farplas factory, dispersing the workers with pepper gas. Two people fainted during the intervention. One worker had his leg broken.

Right to free speech and assembly

On May Day 2021, 212 demonstrators were detained in Istanbul, Turkey, for attempting to hold a protest in defiance of the government’s strict coronavirus lockdown rules. In the lead-up to the historic day, police closed all roads leading in to Taksim Square, the site where 34 people were killed in a 1977 May Day protest. Due to security concerns, a ban on May Day demonstrations in Taksim Square has been in effect for several years.


When workers at smartphone producer Salcomp in Istanbul, Turkey, exercised their fundamental right to join a trade union, they faced intimidation, threats and dismissals. Working conditions at the plant were untenable. During the pandemic, overtime was imposed without the workers’ consent and only partly paid. Breaks could only be taken at the managers’ discretion, and since there was no canteen, workers had to eat in containers for a while. Many workers became ill with COVID-19.

When the workers decided to join the Turkish Metalworkers’ Union (Türk Metal), in August 2021, management launched a union busting campaign. Workers were intimidated, threatened and 170 union members were dismissed. Around 80 per cent of the dismissed workers were women. After six days of protest, workers managed to get Salcomp to reverse its decision and reinstate all dismissed union members.

Salcomp produces smart phones for the Chinese multinational Xiaomi, the second largest smartphone maker in the world. There are around 800 workers at the site in Istanbul, and there are plans to increase the workforce to 2,000.

Workers excluded from labour protections

Under Turkish law, senior public employees, magistrates and prison guards were excluded from the right to organise.

The government in Turkey used coronavirus lockdown rules to arrest over 200 demonstrators on May Day. With arrests of trade unionists and systematic union-busting, it is one of the worst countries for working people.Yasin Akgul / AFP

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