Turkey: Court ruling gives hope to Tekel workers

Now link up all workers’ struggles – for a general strike!

After a long march around the tent city, and through the Ankara centre, small demonstrations are repeatedly formed, which come together to create new, larger demonstrations.

Television crews from all over Turkey, and internationally, came to cover the protests. The police line up next to the Tekel workers’ tent city.

For many workers, it is too early for debates about the consequences of the court’s decision. The workers’ criticisms and the growing mistrust of the trade union leadership remains but after so many weeks of struggle and debate about the way forward, the strikers feel it is now time to celebrate after the court announcement.

The difference between the trade union leadership and the rank and file becomes obvious whenever the question of the future of the tent city is raised. The Tekel workers, by a large majority, want to stay, to defend the tents if the police attack. The tops of the trade union want to dismantle the tents, to "bring the battle to different places" – areas where the Tekel workers are from (At least that is how the union leaders present their case).

Almost all the workers would regard such action as a defeat. Their battle has gone on for more than 77 days. The tiredness and the strain on all the workers are obvious. But that provides another reason to celebrate the court outcome and a reason, above all, to dance.

“We can turn the tables!”

The tent city is soon overrun with dancers, clapping their hands, including the tents of the workers from Dyiarbakir. Many see this part of the tent city as the heart of the struggle.

The dances only stop when slogans are shouted. Again and again, small demonstrations start, accompanied with fireworks.

Around 7 pm, big fireworks erupt on the roof of the Türk Is headquarters, the trade union centre (which many workers feel only half-heartedly supports their struggle).

Everyone is happy. You can summarize the mood of workers: “Now we have the break that we so long hoped for!” Many strikers also now feel: “We can turn the tables!”

What is missing, however, are concrete proposals, how to press forward and to use the favorable situation which has developed for now. Neither the official Left, nor the trade union movement offer such steps.

The idea of ‘committees of mass action’, organized and run by workers, to co-ordinate the struggle, is well received, just as the idea of a further general strike gets much support. But many workers do not believe these steps will be possible to realise.

An extension of the Tekel workers’ struggle, to include other sections of the Turkish working class, who are under similar threats from bosses (like the tobacco workers), is urgently needed, to link-up the potential power of the working class and to fully capitalize on the possibilities provided by the court judgement.

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