Resulting from various violations of the fundamental workers’ rights such as oganising, collective bargaining and collective action (including strikes), union rights have always been at the top of the freedom agenda in the Turkish unions. The Turkish government has directly violated legal framework of the country, as well as International Labour Organisation conventions 87 and 98 as in the many cases. Starting on the 29th of January 2015 and ending a day later, the Metal workers' strike, is the third strike ban in the last 12 months and considered to be the largest one in last 20 years of Turkey (Çelik, 2015). Its suspension is to last for 60 days The Cabinet of Ministers delayed the metalworkers' strike which had covered 15 thousand members working in 42 different companies, claiming that it is prejudicial to the national security. These companies are represented by the MESS (Association of Metal Product Industrialists) group collective agreement.
Income distribution is now back to the centre of economic growth, with a broad consensus that inequality has been increasing to a worrying level which require serious policy interventions. Most recently, Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty First Century, has offered a powerful historical reminder that income inequality has been a thorny issue with which the modern society is been struggling and that, excessive inequality, if left unaddressed, has severe social and economic consequences. Thus, the “conventional wisdom” that inequality was an inevitable by product of the structural transformation from rural/ agricultural to industrial/urban employment and that after this initial rise of inequality growth would be eventually taking care of inequality without “artificial” non-market intervention has lost its empirical ground and is now in retreat. The Kuznets curve which was once understood to embody such belief is being discredited.
Trends in inequality are not automatically determined by economic growth. Rather, it is the matter of social and political choice. Paradoxically, once we move away from the “comfort zone” of the Kuznets curve, we can listen to his original message. In fact, Kuznets’ turning point beyond which inequality begins to decline is not economic. He said that the period of falling inequality was driven by “legislative interference and ‘political’ decisions” that reflected a “re-evaluation of the need for income inequalities as a source of savings for economic growth” (Kuznets 1955). And he added that these processes themselves were driven by “the growing political power of the urban lower-income groups”. With these observations, it should not come as a surprise that he called for “a shift from market economics to political and social economy” (Lee and Gerecke 2015).
Clean exit? A ‘clean exit’. These were the words used last May, at home and abroad, to celebrate the end of the Portuguese three-year adjustment programme, just like in Ireland a few months earlier. Having accumulated a buffer that covers government financial needs until the end of 2015, Portuguese authorities announced, just ahead of the elections to the European Parliament, that the country would not need to resort again to international assistance – whether in the form of a precautionary line by the European Stability Mechanism, or a new loan by international creditors.
The ‘Portuguese exit’ added to the general sense of relief that has been increasingly felt among EU authorities since the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme in 2012. The continuous drop in government bonds’ interest rates across the Eurozone is seen as a decisive step to overcome the risks of disruption in the European Monetary Union. Though acknowledging the high social and economic costs accruing from several years of budgetary austerity, EU official documents typically conclude that the adjustment programmes implemented in the periphery of the Eurozone were essentially successful, having created the conditions for a sustained recovery from of the crisis.
In a time when in Paris Marine Le Pen is “Ante Portas”, when xenophobic populists are marching through the streets of Dresden, when in London the UKIP sets the tone for an ever more Anti-European hysteria, and when in Helsinki the Finnish government becomes the most ardent proponent of more austerity for Greece, for no other reason but the fear of a success of the “real Finns” at the next ballot box, the Greek people have given a clear signal, voting against more austerity and for the European values of democracy, the welfare state, tolerance and inclusive societies.
They have rejected the ruling by European and international technocrats. They have said no to their national oligarchic establishment that has led the country to the current situation. But they also resisted the Siren calls of Golden Dawn. They have given their confidence to an untested party, with no experience in government, a party that has presented an electoral programme proposing better governance, more democracy, greater social justice and an end of austerity policies that have destroyed the economy and created unprecedented hardship while the public debt (and the private one) continued to increase. The Greek voters have sent a clear message to the rest of Europe: they want to be part of Europe, they can’t bear more austerity; they need a sustainable solution to their debt problem; they want to be a respected partner in the European Union and play an active role in the common search for a Greek and European recovery.
Introduction A crucial moment in South Africa’s transition to democracy was the signing of the Laboria Minute in 1990 between unions, employers and government where it was agreed that no laws on labour market issues would be passed without the agreement of all three social partners. This led to the establishment of the National Economic Forum (NEF) in 1992 and its merging with the National Manpower Commission (NMC) to create South Africa’s premier social dialogue institution, the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). In many ways the Laboria Minute was to pre-figure the political negotiations that led to South Africa’s first democratic elections in April 1994.
NEDLAC is distinctive as a peak-level social dialogue institution in that it includes not just labour market issues but also trade and industrial policy, monetary and fiscal policy as well as developmental issues. The traditional tripartite structure was also broadened to include community organisations.
In 2013 the authors were appointed to undertake an External Review to recommend ways of repositioning NEDLAC. We interviewed representatives from all four of the constituencies and wrote up a report. Subsequently we presented the report separately to all four constituencies and then incorporated their feedback into the review again before finalising our recommendations.