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.