TURKEY : SPIDLA CALLS FOR PROGRESS ON TRADE UNION AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla urged Turkey to do more to guarantee trade union rights and improve the position of women as he visited the candidate country on 5-6 March. He recalled that trade union rights were a fundamental component of the political criteria for EU membership, indicating that Turkey still had much work to do in this area. He complained about the fact that trade union membership was possible only through a notary and involved high costs; about certain restrictions on the right to strike; and about requirements for the authorisation of trade unions - at least 50% of a company's employees and 10% of a sector - being too high.
Mr Spidla said that equal opportunities were a priority for the accession talks now getting underway with Turkey. He praised legislative progress made by Turkey affecting women's rights but cautioned that women still faced serious problems, in terms of discrimination and domestic violence, education and illiteracy. And, Mr Spidla noted, the percentage of women in employment was falling continuously: in 1955, 75% of all women of productive age were employed, compared to only 24% today. He stressed the need to continue and apply adopted reforms to ensure a lasting improvement in women's situation. The Commissioner also said the informal economy should be reduced, with an estimated 30-50% of Turkish workers employed in this area - including a disproportionately high figure for women.
Meanwhile, Mr Spidla confirmed that a Joint Assessment Paper was under preparation in which the Turkish authorities and the Commission would set out employment policy problems and possible solutions. He pointed out that it was important for social partners to give their views.