UK – SPAIN – TURKEY – The ongoing dispute regarding 305 workers dismissed by Turkish Airlines and covered in our previous articles took a new turn today when the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) wrote to two of the most famous names in football, Manchester United and FC Barcelona, both sponsored by the airline, in a bid to have them persuade the passenger and cargo carrier to change tack over the sackings. The two clubs are due to play a friendly today in Gotenborg.
Last month protests were held in London at the start of the Olympic Games as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived and in the latest development ITF general secretary David Cockroft has written to the two clubs urging both United’s Chief Executive David Gill and Barca President Sandro Rosell i Feliu to use their influence to bring the airline to the negotiating table and “to urge the Turkish Airlines management to reconsider its unnecessarily heavy-handed action and to participate in good faith in a dialogue with the union with the intention of finding an equitable and positive outcome to the dispute”.
Mr Cockcroft pointed out to Mr Gill the Manchester club’s mission to be socially responsible and welcomed the club’s commitment to tackling environmental and social issues at regional, national and international level, whilst praising FC Barcelona’s “values and historical association with the defence of democratic rights and freedom”.
The tactic of dragging such unrelated big names into this dispute highlights the unions’ frustration at the lack of progress in resolving the conflict. The ITF plainly feel they are fighting not only the airline but elements within the Turkish authorities and David Cockroft concluded:
“We and our affiliates would much rather work with good employers to establish best practice in the aviation industry and to address the huge challenges that we face, but when this kind of victimisation happens we have no choice but to act. Despite meetings between the ITF and Turkish government representatives in Geneva and London to try to find a resolution to the dispute, talks have failed, apparently due to a lack of willingness on the part of the airline’s management to achieve a mutually acceptable solution.”