‘Halting Work Upon Union’s Call Not Within the Scope of Union Rights’

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  • January 3, 2020
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Evaluating the disciplinary punishment given to a teacher for halting work upon her union's call, Constitutional Court has found the application inadmissible as the aim of the protest was not within the union's core area of activity and had political purposes.

The Constitutional Court has concluded the appeal of teacher Pinar Cankaya Ulas, who halted work for a day upon the call of her union.

The Court has ruled that the teacher's freedom of association was not violated because the protest demonstration of "No to war, we will support peace" that she joined and her strike action were not related to union rights even though it was done upon the call and organization of the union.

Announcing its detailed ruling, the Constitutional Court has argued that the decision of halting work and the statement for the press "do not fall within the scope of union's core area of activity."

The supreme court has also referred to the protest as "one of the decisions taken by unions within the scope of their activities as pressure groups against the political authority."

Administrative Court revoked the punishment

Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK) decided to hold a statement for the press against curfews on December 29, 2015. Affiliated with the KESK, the Education and Science Laborers' Union (Egitim-Sen) decided to "not give service" for a day in support of the statement.

Abiding by the call of her union, Pinar Cankaya Ulas, a teacher at a secondary school in Yenisehir, Mersin, halted work for a day.

In the ensuing investigation launched against her for "not performing duty without presenting any excuses", the wage of the teacher was cut by one thirtieth (1/30) as a disciplinary punishment.

As her objection was rejected by the Provincial Disciplinary Board, she filed a lawsuit and requested the annulment of the punishment. The Mersin 2nd Administrative Board revoked the punishment.

As the reason for its verdicr, the court indicated that the statutory limitations were violated as the investigation was not launched within a month.

'Not among the rights required to be protected'

However, the administration appealed against this ruling. Konya Regional Administrative Court rejected the request of appeal. In its detailed ruling, the court said that the statutory limitations were not violated.

Evaluating the case on principal grounds as well, the court also concluded that "while the acts pursuing the aim of improving economic, social and occupational rights and benefits of public officers should be protected as per the Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the acts not pursuing these aims did not fall within the scope of the rights required to be protected - even though there was a decision of the union."

The court said that teacher did not go to work because she protested curfews and it "did not constitute an act that pursued the aim of protecting, restoring or improving the public officers' economic, social and professional rights and interests, personal and monetary rights and working conditions."

As this verdict was upheld by the 12th Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Ulas made an individual application to the Constitutional Court.

In her appeal to the supreme court, she indicated that "her right to establish an association and trade union, freedom of thought and expression, right to an effective remedy, right to congregate and demonstrate and her other Constitutional rights were violated as she was given a disciplinary punishment for joining a strike action upon the call of her union."

'Activities undertaken against political authority'

Announcing its justified ruling today (January 3), the Constitutional Court has expressed the same opinion with the Konya Regional Administrative Court and referred to a verdict previously given for Ahmet Parmaksiz by the General Assembly of the Constitutional Court:

"Apart from the unions' activities undertaken to protect and improve the economic and social rights and interests of their members, union members' participation in strike actions in line with the decisions taken by the unions within the scope of their activities as pressure groups against the political authority have been evaluated to be actions that do not fall within the union's core area of activity."

Accordingly, the court has found the application of teacher Pinar Cankaya Ulas inadmissible.

Source: English Bianet