Turkiye: YOL-IS celebrates 60 years, re-elects Agar as president

Celebrating its 60th year anniversary, the Turkish Union of Road, Construction and Building Workers (YOL-IS) on 10-11 December held its 12th Ordinary General Assembly in Ankara, Turkiye, gathering more than 400 delegates.

An international delegation of 41 representatives from sister trade unions abroad also attended the assembly. This was led by BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, European Federation for Building and Wood Workers (EFBWW) General Secretary Tom Deleu and European Public Services Union (EPSU) Deputy General Secretary Penny Clarke. 

The assembly saw the re-election of YOL-IS President Ramazan Agar, who drew attention to the economic and social problems faced by Turkish workers as a result of neoliberal policies such as privatisation, labour subcontracting and flexibility. He emphasised the need to ensure safe working conditions and decent wages, the elimination of violence against women, the creation of a more habitable and arable world, and the re-strengthening of public institutions.

“We must remember that unions are indispensable organisations for a modern democracy, social justice, and an advanced economy. Our decades experience in the trade union movement led us to the conclusion that the right to organise and collective bargaining are inalienable rights of workers. Amidst the multiple global crises, unions must always remember this and struggle for a fairer world where fundamental human rights and freedoms are guaranteed,” Agar said.

BWI recognised YOL-IS’s campaign against labour subcontracting, saying that it was unceasing and determined. 

“YOL-IS has fought for the rights of subcontracted workers. It contributed to a Supreme Court ruling that clearly says that subcontracted workers must have direct contracts with public employers. With this decision, thousands of workers from other sectors benefited from this victory. Also, the union’s joint declarations with employers on workplace health and safety helped us secure the ILO’s historic recognition of OSH as a fundamental right. BWI continues to stand with YOL-IS in their fight for justice and equal treatment for all the workers who it represents,” Yuson said. 

YOL-IS’s general assembly concluded with the adoption of two resolutions on trade union policy and organising.