Labour Containment Strategies and Working Class Struggles in the Neoliberal Era: The Case of TEKEL Workers in Turkey

2019-05-01
Yalman, Galip L.
Topal Yılmaz, Aylin
This article aims to refresh class analysis in order to develop a better understanding of different modalities of reproduction of labour quite often without economic and social security in different historically specific contexts. It draws attention to the pertinence of exploring the ways in which the individuals comprising a particular movement experience specific moments of collective will formation within an authoritarian state form. In this regard, it focuses on the implications of the privatization of SEEs since the 2000s for workers who were made redundant and deprived of their social rights. On the basis of a field research with more than 100 former workers of TEKEL (a major privatized SEE) who staged a resistance to the AKP government's offer of precarious employment status during the winter of 2009-10, the article provides a critical evaluation of this momentous experience pondering why such a moment of collective will formation failed to pave the ground for the development of a counter-hegemonic strategy. While aiming to assess the impact of this common experience on the ex-workers' awareness of their class belonging who actually carried the brunt of the neoliberal assault on their economic and social well-being, the article argues that the particular employment policy did not simply introduce informalization into public sector but functioned as a labour containment strategy by the AKP government.