The “International Conference on Organising Hard-To-Organise Groups”, which, as the “voice of those who could not make their voices heard”, discussed the organising problems of such groups was held on 8 May 2018 hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the International Labour Organization’s Office for Turkey.
Organised under the project “Improving Social Dialogue in Working Life” implemented by the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Office for Turkey with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security as the beneficiary, the “International Conference on Organising Hard-To-Organise Groups” discussed the problems of and possible solutions to organising the hard-to-organise workers, ranging from Turkish and foreign home workers to waste paper collectors, from street vendors to doormen who could not make their voices heard.
The Conference was attended by the representatives of organisations which fielded best practices in various parts of the world ranging from India to European Union countries, and Turkish practices were discussed in detail.
Speaking at the opening section, Mr. Mazhar Yıldırımhan, Deputy Undersecretary of MoLSS, emphasized that the Ministry was closely cooperating with ILO to improve social dialogue at all levels, with the present international conference representing a most visible indicator of such joint efforts. Yıldırımhan then gave a brief of actions taken and results achieved under the Project to date.
Mr. Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, indicated that “hard-to-organise workers” differed in individual characteristics (age, gender or ethnicity), types of work they are engaged (occupation or sector etc.), types of contracts they sign (self-employed, informal, part-time, temporary or through private employment agencies) or types of employing enterprises (informal, micro-enterprise or SME etc.); therefore, they were often excluded from such mechanisms as union representation, social dialogue and collective bargaining. Özcan noted that the Conference was important in that respect, and highlighted the cases of success, though partial.
At the Conference, three panel discussions were moderated by Mr. Youcef Ghellab, International Labour Organisation Social Dialogue and Tripartism Unit, Head of Unit; Ms. Caroline O’Reilly, Senior Expert of the same unit; Mr. Hüseyin Seyrekoğlu, Head of Department for Collective Agreements, Directorate-General for Labour of MoLSS. The participants included executives and representatives from StreetNet International, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India, Home Workers Solidarity Union (EVIDSEN), IMECE Home Workers Union, Association of Street Waste Collectors, and KONUTSEN.
The participants shared their experience, challenges and possible solutions in their personal and organising contexts.
Presented also at the International Conference was the report “Organising and Representing Hard-to-Organise Workers” produced under the project “Improving Social Dialogue in Working Life”. Authored by the academicians Igor Guardiancich and Oscar Molina, the report highlights that a significant part of the workers in Turkey and in the world face serious obstacles in areas ranging from “registration” to “representation”, and addresses the actions that may be taken for improvement in this respect.
The said report is the first of a series of reports commissioned under the project “Improving Social Dialogue in Working Life”.