Norwegian trade unions have questioned whether the country’s national investment bank should continue to invest in Turkish Airlines (THY) following the airline’s sacking of 305 employees. The Norwegian Cabin Crew Union, the Norwegian Union of Commercial and Office Employees, and the Parat union have all contacted the Norges Bank Investment Management – the investment arm of Norway’s central bank – to warn it that to continue to back THY financially is incompatible with its stated principles.
The unions stated that they have: ‘no objections to the fact that the Norges Bank Investment Management invests in international civil aviation as well as various other industries. Nonetheless, the unalterable condition is that any investment must be made in accordance with the Norges Bank Investment Management’s own ethical guidelines. Based on the actions of the TurkishAirlines’ management during the past few months we fail to see that the company meet these criteria.
They continued: ‘305 Turkish Airlines’ employees were sacked in May after participating in protests against legislation to deprive them of the right to strike. The proposed legislation is in violation of ILO convention no. 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise. Convention no. 87 is also referred to as the Constitution of the ILO. Turkey, as well as Norway, has signed convention no. 87 and we find this to be incompatible with state ownership of Turkish Airlines.
‘The right to strike is a fundamental democratic right and we find it reprehensible that Norges Bank Investment Management is a shareholder in a company which is in violation of basic international democratic principles … Should Turkish Airlines fail to reemploy the 305 workers, the Norges Bank Investment Management has no choice but to pull out of the airline.’
Elisabeth Goffeng, president of the Norwegian Cabin Crew Union and member of the ITF civil aviation section committee, explained the reasons behind the unions’ intervention: “The aviation industry has been exposed to fierce competition for a number of years and several Norwegian unions have fought against attacks on the legal rights of workers in national and international aviation. The representatives of our unions are working internationally through The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), The European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) and The Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation (NTF) to fight for safe, predictable and regulated working conditions. It is important that we unite for common civil rights across borders and we refuse to accept discrimination and any form of attack on democratic principles.”
She added: “Due to the actions of Turkish Airlines we, as representatives of Norwegian trade unions, consider it to be unacceptable for the governmentally owned Norges Bank Investment Management to have interests in a company thatblatantly disregards the democratic rights of their workers.”
The Norwegian unions’ action is the latest move by trade unions around the world affiliated to the ITF in support of the sacked workers and their union, Hava-Is. Please see www.reinstate305.org for details of the many other solidarity actions and the history behind the sackings.