BWI celebrates life of YOL-IS General Secretary Tevfik Ozcelik

BWI mourns the passing of Tevfik Ozcelik, General Secretary of the Turkish Union of Road, Construction and Building Workers (YOL-IS), last 31 October 2021 at the age of 76 after a battle with illness. 

Tevfik was a seasoned trade unionist and strong defender of workers' rights. He was introduced to the trade union movement in 1970 when he started working as a young technician at the General Directorate of Highways. He joined YOL-IS in 1972 and rose from its ranks. He was a workplace representative, branch board member and branch president, and in 1991, he was elected as the union’s General Secretary in 1991.

Tevfik was a prominent figure in the Turkish trade union movement’s major struggles and victories, such as “The Spring Actions,” “The Great March,” the 1995 strikes and the successful granting of permanent jobs to subcontracted public sector road workers. As a trade union leader, he generously shared his knowledge, skills and experiences to fellow trade unionists. 

He was also a trade union internationalist. Tevfik was one of the pillars of YOL-IS’ international work. Throughout his career, he was active in the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW) and later, with BWI, where he built strong solidarity between his country’s trade union movement and the global community. 

A true friend and colleague to many trade unionists and BWI affiliates in the Pan-European region, BWI condoles with Tevfik’s family, friends and YOL-IS comrades. 

We will honour and celebrate the life of Tevfik by continuing his struggle for a better future.