What is a solidarity fee and why do unions not like it?

The main aim of a collective bargaining agreement is to develop the employment rights and benefits of employees in the workplace contractually. It is undisputed that unions have more strength and bargaining power than individual employees. Once a collective bargaining agreement is reached, as a general rule, only union members can benefit from its privileges and provisions. However, there is an exception to this rule for non-member employees who pay a solidarity fee to a union.

Solidarity fee

Solidarity fees are regulated under the Law on Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining Agreements(6356). The goal of this law is to create an alternative for the employee who does not wish to be a union member for several possible reasons (eg, the employee may have a different world or political view from the union). In Turkey (as in many other countries) unions and union confederations are established in parallel with political philosophies (eg, leftists, rightists and liberals). The law gives non-union member employees the opportunity to benefit from a collective bargaining agreement, even if the employees do not agree with the political direction of the union, but wish to benefit from the collective bargaining agreement's privileges and be under its protective umbrella. The solidarity fee is freely determined by the union, but cannot exceed the membership fee amount and must be paid by non-member employees on a monthly basis.

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First published by ILO (Employment and Benefits Newsletter) April 2015