Confederation of labour unions founded in Ankara on June 23, 1970.

The confederation was established by Plastik-Is (Union of Rubber and Plastic Industry Workers of Turkey) and Türpek-Is union, and its board of founders was composed of Veli Özel, Ömer Faruk Akinci, Ekrem Diker, M. Faruk Demirer, Ahmet Seskir, Halil Güner, Salih Dursun, Suat B. Soyu and Remiz Altin.

MISK was founded immediately after the workers actions of June 15-16, 1970, organized by DISK members to protest the proposed amendments to the Trade Union Act. It claimed from the start to be an alternative to DISK.

In 1971 its affiliates reported 4766 members. However, the number of its affiliates and consequently its total membership showed a growth after the nationalist front government came into power in 1975.

The second general assembly meeting of MISK convened on 20- 21.12.1975 and decided to expel Hür Mensucat, Ekmek-Is and its founder Plastik-Is from the confederation because they did not pay their membership dues and incited strife in the organization.

The 3rd congress was held on 22-24.12.1978. It elected to the board Ömer Faruk Akinci (chairman), Mete Besen (general secretary), Hüsnü Cetiner, Sükrü Dagdeviren and Kadri Catmakas.

In 1979 MISK reported that it had 19 affiliates, with a total membership of 285,496.

In the late 1970’s there were widespread rumours about the connections between MISK and the extreme right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its auxiliary organizations. After an explosion in the garage of the Education and Cultural Centre of MISK in July 1979, the police department announced that the explosion had happened during the production of bombs in the garage. The executive committee and some employees of MISK were arrested and indicted, but they were later released.

The activities of the confederation and its affiliates were suspended by the military government in 1980; their leaders were detained and the organizations were placed under trusteeship. Nevertheless, no lawsuit was filed against MISK during the military regime. Only the leaders of Genel-Sen were indicted. In June 1984 the ban on MISK and its affiliated unions, with the exception of Genel-Sen, was lifted. However, only 8 unions (out of 19) were able to resume their activities. MISK held an extraordinary congress on 15-16.9.1984 to adapt its structure to the provisions of the new Trade Union Act.

Its 4th general assembly meeting convened on 3-4.11.1984. The board elected at this congress was composed of Mete Besen (chairman), Hüsnü Cetiner, Tekin Kücükali, Sükrü Dagdeviren and Necati Dalgic. However Necati Dalgic was later expelled from his own union Celik-Is (Union of Steel Workers) and MISK when it was discovered that he was employed in a public forestry enterprise.

In 1980 the trustees reported the total membership of the 8 unions that were reopened as 21,856. This figure dropped even further with new resignations. In 1985 MISK affiliates reported a total membership of 4,750. However, a labour court allowed MISK affiliates to report their membership according to the figures prior to the enactment of the new Trade Union Act and MISK’s total membership rose to 115,000. This ruling made it possible for 5 MISK affiliates to comply with the stipulation of organizing 10% of the workers in their branches and to conduct collective negotiations. This development was criticised by Türk-Is and some workers filed lawsuits against MISK affiliates for showing them on their membership lists.

In May 1985 MISK leaders Ömer Faruk Akinci, Mete Besen, Hüsnü Cetiner, Sükrü Dagdeviren and Kadri Catmakas were indicted for assisting MHP and extremist organizations financially. However, the case became the subject of the statute of limitations when different courts passed contradictory decisions on whether the unionists should be included in the MHP trial or tried only for violating trade union legislation.

At the 5th congress on 19-20.12.1987 the name of the confederation was changed to Yurt-Is (Confederation of Trade Unions of Our Land) on the grounds that the name MISK was associated in public opinion with a political party. The board elected at this congress was composed of Mete Besen, Abdullah Keles, Faruk Berberoglu, Recep Alyamac, Hayri Bakkal, Ahmet Sarp, Hüseyin Sahin, Ali Ihsan Bacalar and Ziya Ketizmen.

The same year Türk Celik-Sen and Mensucat-Is unions decided to withdraw from the confederation, while Türk Oleysen merged with the independent Tursan-is. Türk Tarim-is, on the other hand, filed for liquidation. As a result only four unions were left in Yurt-Is. Since the law stipulated at least 5 unions for forming a confederation, in 1988 the Ministry of Labour started liquidation formalities for Yurt-Is. These formalities were completed in 1989 and as the authorities could not find any assets of the confederation, the Ministry finalized its liquidation in 1993.

In the meantime, however, Yeni Bes-Is, Tek Tarim-Is, Genel Deri-Is, Türk Genel-Sen and Tek Yapi-Sen unions founded in Izmir on 30.1.1993 a confederation called BISK (Confederation of Allied Trade Unions). The confederation was a continuation of MISK and its temporary board included Hüsnü Cetiner (chairman), Hüseyin Sahin, Kudret Ören, Mustafa Uyar and Güler Tunc.

At its first general assembly meeting on 22-23.1.1994 BISK converted its name to MISK, and decided to move its headquarters from Izmir to Ankara. The board was composed of Hüsnü Cetiner (chairman), Fettah Akan, Kudret Ören, Sükrü Dagdeviren, Mustafa Uyar, Mehmet Sasmaz and Hamdi Aslan. The provisory board elected at the extraordinary congress held on 8 August 1996 is composed of Ömer Faruk Akinci (chairman), Kudret Ören (general secretary), Kayhan Düztürk (deputy chairman), Ali Riza Kelestimur, Fettah Akan, Mustafa Uyan and Hamdi Aslan.

In July 1994 only 2 out of 6 MISK affiliates reported their membership which totalled 5,959. In January 1995 the number of member unions rose to 7, and the total membership of the two unions that submitted reports to the Ministry to 7,488.

MISK has always defended „nationalist trade unionism" and never concealed the fact that its political doctrine was the same as that of MHP. In the report to the 2nd congress of the confederation the concept nationalist unionism was explained as follows: „According to the nationalist doctrine, in contrast to liberal and marxist doctrines, workers and employers are not two mutually hostile classes, but two complementary elements of national production... The state as a „national state" protects both the worker and the employer at equal terms. The basic question here is the augmentation of national production, development, and the share of the worker from the increased national income. Therefore the workers have to unite in powerful organizations... This can only be possible with just one union in each branch... If the principle of pluralism in unions is accepted, unions will be founded according to different ideologies and political doctrines... The principle of compulsory membership: The obligation of all workers in one branch to affiliate to the union founded in that branch is called compulsory unionism. In this way all members of a profession will have a protector, a defender..."

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | November 1998

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