Union rejects negotiations with Turkish Airlines

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish union has rejected an offer for talks by Turkish Airlines, increasing the likelihood of a strike in the peak holiday season and knocking nearly 6 percent off the carrier’s stock price. The standoff comes during Turkey’s peak summer season, when millions of tourists come to its Mediterranean beaches and ancient sites. Tourism brings crucial foreign currency revenues, which last year amounted to about $17 billion (12.44 billion euros). «The main point is that this is peak tourism season, and this could definitely hurt the sector,» said Ahmet Akarli, an economist at Goldman Sachs. The union, which says it represents 11,300 Turkish Airlines workers including pilots and stewards, said in a statement it had looked at the airline’s offer and found it did not meet fundamental demands. Union leader Atilay Aycin told Reuters on Friday that a strike would be called six working days after it had received a mediator’s report, which he said was due within a couple of days. The union threatened a strike last week. The carrier said in a statement, «The Hava-Is union… did not even feel the need to discuss our new offer, which we sent to them on July 4, 2007, to help improve wages and benefits.» After a weak year for tourism in 2006 due to bird flu, separatist bombings and regional instability, this year has started well, with a 16 percent rise in foreign visitors in the first five months.

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