Onur Can Taştan is a researcher from Turkey working on labor movements and trade unionism. He received his Ph.D. in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations from Ankara University with a dissertation that analyzed the emergence of sector-level struggles between workers' and employers' unions in the metal sector in their relation to struggles at the point of production between the late 1950s and 1980 in Turkey. He worked as a research assistant at Ankara University until 2016, when he was dismissed from public service by decree-law, then as a non-resident postdoctoral fellow at Göttingen University (2017-2019) and as a researcher at Uppsala University (2020-2021).
Authoritarian Neoliberalism, Reactionary Populism and Labor Movement: An Investigation of New Labor Activism During the 2022 Strike Wave in Turkey
This research project aims to explore the dynamics of new labor activism against/under authoritarian neoliberalism through an analysis of the emergence of a recent strike wave in Turkey. In the first two months of 2022, 108 strikes took place, almost all of which were unofficial strikes. The strikes were predominantly in private sector workplaces, and in the strikes where unions were involved, half of the unions that organized them or played crucial roles were young, militant, and independent unions. This unique wave of strikes offers a suitable case for considering various themes highlighted in the literature in a concrete moment of struggle: An authoritarian system of labor relations with its legal, institutional, and ideological dimensions; mainstream unionism that primarily seeks to suppress, limit and control workers' actions in line with the government's policy framework; an authoritarian government that has built hegemony over the working class through obedient trade unions, a network of religious sects and party organizations permeating workers' lives and diffusing reactionary populism. How the activists and trade unions that played essential roles in this strike wave coped with the constraints of the authoritarian labor regime in Turkey and the dynamics that determined their success or failure in creating and maintaining a lasting level of organization will enable a discussion of the limits and possibilities of a labor movement from below.