Union warns of Turkish Airlines strike ahead of Sunday poll

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A union said it would call a strike of its members at Turkish Airlines on Friday if it did not receive a convincing wage offer from the airline yesterday, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. A strike could deal a major blow to the tourism sector during the peak holiday season, with the union representing some 11,300 Turkish Airlines workers, including pilots and stewards. However, if the union does call a strike, it would have to give at least six days notice, so such a move would not disrupt the plans of some Turkish holidaymakers to fly home from coastal resorts in order to vote in Sunday’s national elections. Fears of a strike have weighed on the airline’s shares this month, but they ended unchanged at 9.9 lira yesterday. Anatolia quoted the head of the civil aviation union, Hava-Is, as saying talks had not produced any changes and it had not given up on previously stated plans for a strike. «There is no change in the existing situation. There is no question of us giving up on the decision to hold a strike in these conditions,» Hava-Is Chairman Atilay Aycin told reporters after talks with the airline’s management. «We have given them until 6 p.m. today. If there is not an extraordinarily decisive offer, we will call a strike on Friday,» Aycin said. Asked about the negative impact on tourism, Aycin said: «Those in the tourism sector look after their interests and we look after our interests. What can we do? Should airline workers give up their rights for the benefit of the tourism sector?» Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean beaches and ancient sites attract millions of tourists each summer. Tourism brings in crucial foreign currency revenues, which last year amounted to about $17 billion.

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