BWI holds three-day visit to Turkey, strengthens ties with affiliates

BWI held a three-day visit to Turkey on 1-3 October to touch base with its affiliates, the Turkish Forestry Workers’ Union (ORMAN-IS) and the Civil Servants’ Union of Agriculture, Forestry, Husbandry and Environment Sectors (TARIM ORMAN-IS).

Represented by BWI Pan European Regional Representative Coen van der Veer, the global union talked with the leaders of ORMAN-IS and TARIM ORMAN-IS to hear the latest political and economic developments in Turkey and the affiliates’ recent organising efforts and training activities. 

BWI was informed that ORMAN-IS is continuing its organising of forest workers in public facilities by conducting face-to-face visits with workers while maintaining a strong social media campaign and presence.

Both affiliates raised the issue of wildfires in Turkey, which they said were some of the most destructive fires in the country’s history. The unions reminded the importance of raising awareness on the impact of climate change and lobbying and campaigning for the implementation of sustainable forest policies and afforestation practices. The trade unionists also mentioned their presence during the wildfires to support workers in different ways possible. TARIM ORMAN-IS even started a campaign to provide forest workers their urgent needs. The union said that this was possible with the help and support of BWI and FNV.

Coen, who is also BWI’s Global Wood and Forestry Coordinator travelled to Bolu together with TARIM ORMAN-IS President Sukru Durmus and visited workers there who are joining the union and listened to their concerns. 

Also, as part of BWI’s three-day visit, Coen and BWI Project Coordinator for Turkey Gulsah Doruk attended TARIM ORMAN-IS’s General Assembly. Coen had the opportunity to discuss the issues faced by workers worldwide such as growing attacks on workers’ rights, the increasing precariousness of work, rotation and outright dismissals of workers and migrant workers’ rights violations. He also congratulated the union for their successful campaigns and actions to protect forests and natural resources, to reinstate dismissed workers and to ensure workers’ rights.

“We know very well that workers in the public sector, as well as workers in the forestry and agricultural sectors, all need your union’s expertise and commitment to ensuring decent work, safe working conditions, including protection against COVID-19, and most importantly, protection from the government’s anti-worker policies,” he said. 

TARIM ORMAN-IS’s general assembly concluded with the re-election of Sukru Durmus as president and approval of the extension of the terms of board members to enable the union to form a special committee to report on labour rights violations and policy amendments.