YOL-IS (Turkish Union of Road Construction and Building Workers) issued a nationwide press release on 26 March 2018 stating that the government’s recent decree on permanent public employment of subcontracted workers should guarantee equal public employment rights to all subcontracted workers at the Directorate of Highways.
Since 2002, main and continuous tasks of the Directorate previously done by state employees from road maintenance and repair to snow removal and winter services have been outsourced. YOL-IS has run a nationwide campaign between 2010 and 2015 to organise subcontracted workers at Directorate of Highways demanding public employment for these workers. The union gained a legal victory in Supreme Court as “subcontracted workers shall be employed as public workers at the Directorate of Highways as of the first day of their employment”. As a result, 12 thousand subcontracted YOL-IS members have become public workers in April 2015.
YOL-IS’s fight against subcontracting paved the way for a more comprehensive movement of workers returning to the public payroll and then eventually the government promised to take action during its election campaign. Consequently, Turkish government issued a decree granting permanent public employment for almost 1 million subcontracted workers from around 15 different sectors in December 2017. However, the new YOL-IS members who have been hired after April 2015 under “turn-key contracts” are excluded from the scope of this decree. It means that even though the subjects of the contracts and the labour relations between main contractor and subcontractors are the same and collusive, the treatment of workers is completely opposite.
Therefore, YOL-IS began to mobilise workers to protest the decision. The union started a new nationwide campaign term to fight for the rights of its members who are excluded from the decree. The campaign covers a total of 21 thousand YOL-IS members along with those working in Provincial Administrations and Village Services Units.