Turkish Industrial Relations at the Crossroads: Revisiting the History of Industrial Relations in the Early Post World War Two Period

Oezkiziltan D., Çelik A.

INTERNATIONAL LABOR AND WORKING-CLASS HISTORY, vol.93, pp.151-175, 2018 (SSCI) identifier identifier


The 1961 constitutional reform in Turkey recognized the right to strike and granted other rights and freedoms related to the collective actions of labor. Conventional wisdom holds that Turkish trade unions became independent of the state power with class-based interests only after this reform. Across mainstream literature, this is considered, in historical institutionalist terms, as the first critical juncture in Turkey's industrial relations. This paper provides a critical account of the institutional continuity, development, and change that took place in Turkey's industrial relations starting from its establishment as a republic in 1923 until the end of the 1950s, by considering the socioeconomic and legal-political environment during these years. Considering the historical evidence employed, and under historical institutionalism, it is argued that the first critical juncture in the country's industrial relations occurred in 1947, when the ruling cliques permitted the establishment of trade unions. In this paper, it is purported that the consensus reached by the trade unions on the necessity of the right to strike from the mid-1950s onwards initiated a peaceful class struggle between Turkish labor and the state, which gradually steered the industrial relations toward the second critical juncture following the promulgation of the 1961 constitution.