Turkey's major labor unions call to celebrate Workers’ Day in Taksim Square

Turkey’s five major labor confederations and professional associations called for the upcoming Workers’ Day on May 1 to be celebrated in Taksim Square, which has been banned for years.

Duvar English

The Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions (KESK), the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Turkish Dental Association (TDB) on Feb. 16 called for the upcoming Labour Day to be celebrated in Taksim Square in a meeting in Istanbul’s central Beşiktaş district.

Even though Taksim Square has been the historic centre for Workers’ Day celebrations, the Turkish government has banned any protest at the square since 2013 and only allowed labor union representatives to hold a symbolic vigil.

In the joint press statement read by DİSK General Secretary Tayfun Görgün at Beşiktaş İskele Square, it was stated that “on May 1, the eyes and ears of millions gathering in squares across Turkey and the world will be in Istanbul's Taksim Square, and millions of hearts will beat in Taksim.”

For the past decade, the Turkish police have barricaded the whole Beyoğlu district in which the Taksim Square located and the governor’s office has closed all the public transportation in the nearby.

The statement said, "We, workers and retirees, are the vast majority of this country. We produce, we work, we create all the values and beauties of this country with our labor, and we deserve to live humanely. However, not only living humanely, but even surviving is becoming increasingly difficult these days."

In December 2023, the Constitutional Court (AYM) ruled that the denial of permission for May 1 celebrations in the Taksim Square in 2014 and 2015 constituted a violation of rights. AYM determined that the right to "assembly and demonstration" was violated, emphasizing Taksim's significance as the "shared memory" and "symbolic value" of workers.