Saturday, January 23, 2010

Collective Labor Agreements Empower Women in the Southeast

From Bianet:
A public employee of the Diyarbakır Yenişehir Municipality had to pay half of his salary to his wife because of resorting to violence within his family. The wife of cleaning personnel member L.A. had applied to the Yenişehir Municipality in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakır, claiming that her husband resorted to violence. After an investigation into the matter municipality officials confirmed the claim. According to article 93/a of the Collective Labour Agreement (TİS), "An employee who applies force to his/her spouse is to pay half of his/her salary to the spouse", thus L.A. paid half of his TL 500 (approx. € 230) wage to his wife.

Even though this application against violence imposed within the family might be perceived as a novelty, in fact collective labour agreements of numerous municipalities include similar regulations.

Municipal and Local Authority Trade Union (Tüm Bel-Sen) General President Vicdan Baykara pointed out that at least 40 municipalities in Turkey signed collective labour agreements that include the corrensponding clause for personnel resorting to violence in the family. Baykara emphasized, "The important part is the implementation. Women mayors are usually more sensitive about applications to protect women's rights".

"The collective labour agreement signed by us embraces further regulations in favour of women. The Women's Worls Labour Day on 8 March is recognized as a holiday for the female staff and the women's quota of municipality personnel is set at 50 percent. These are just a few examples", Baykara explained.

"We design our agreements according to the needs of our local staff. Therefore, the articles included in the agreement are not random but can be implemented specifically. It provides both rights of and responsibility for the employees. The important issue is the implementation, of course. The female mayors play an important role in this. The awareness for social gender rises with female mayors", Baykara indicated.
The first I ever heard of such agreements was back in July, when Abdullah Demirtas, mayor of Diyarbakir's Sur municipality, put into effect a collective labor agreement for Sur with the cooperation of a local union for municipal workers. The concept seems novel, and might well deliver results in a region where domestic violence runs high and accountability low. Any more information on these agreements is more than appreciated.

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