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Turkey: Imece (IMECE)

Turkey: Imece (IMECE)

by IDWFED published May 01, 2017 12:00 AM
IMECE (Union) is an officially registered domestic workers union in Turkey. Although there are some loop holes in the law with regard to the recognition of the sector and domestic workers’ rights in general, IMECE managed to be officially recognized. The union was registered in December 2012.
Street Address Doğan Araslı Bulvarı Örnek İş Merkezi Kat:2 No:37 Esenyurt/İstanbul
Phone Number 0212 596 81 59 / 0506 165 19 57
Fax Number
Email [email protected]
Website and
Type Trade Union
Number of Male Members 0
Number of Female Members 100
Members Pay Fees Check if members pay fees
Maintains Register of Fees Paid Maintains register of fees paid
Year Established 2013


IMECE has 50 officially registered members. Every 5 years they are holding a General Assembly. At this General Assembly the 7 members of the Board are elected.

The first Congress (General Assembly) of the union was on 16 June 2013. The next Congress will be in 2018.

However, in reality they have about 100 members in average, noting that members are leaving and joining. Their decision-making process derives from their history (see below). All decisions are made by a consensus model at meetings by those members who are present. Meetings are at least once a month but usually more often according to needs.

At the moment IMECE union has members in Istanbul, Antalya and Tekirdag. There are women in Hatay who are interested in establishing an IMECE union group but this development is at a very early stage

A record of members’ names and other information is maintained.

Membership fees

About 30 of the members pay regular membership fees. The membership fees are 10 Turkish Liras per month, which is about 1% of the minimum wage, which many of the members earn (many also below). Whenever money is needed, there is a collection and many pay more than the 10 Liras per month. Some, however, don’t pay. Apart from Antalya there is no strong conviction to force members to pay on a regular basis. However, this would be a topic they like to further discuss.

A register of membership fees paid is maintained.

Most of their members are part-time domestic workers with several employers. Only about 3 are live-in domestic workers. Most of them are Turkish nationals. It is expected that the movement of refugees will lead to more migrant domestic workers. There are no children working in the sector.

Objectives, Aims, Mission & Vision of Organization

  • to protect women's labour (struggling patriarchal labour market)
  • to increase women's registered employment
  • to include migrant domestic workers into the labour struggles of the domestic workers without reproducing the patriarchal structure of employment
  • to address women's disadvantageous conditions in working life, which are connected to the invisibility of domestic work and "these conditions increase thought of" (?) 
  • to note that especially undereducated female workers are working in cities as domestic workers. This is why our priorities are to increase registered employment for domestic workers, their rights as domestic workers and migrant workers' rights
  • to advocate for a democratic, gender equal constitution that recognizes the value of domestic work


History of Organization

IMECE was a further development of the Women’s Research and Solidarity Center KADMER and was founded in 2001. It aimed to reach out to women in the periphery in Istanbul, to organize them and to fight for their rights, in particular to fight violence against women. One focus was paid and unpaid labour of women The idea came up to form a cooperative and therefore they chose the name IMECE, which is the name of traditional cooperation of peasants and refers to everybody working collectively. IMECE negotiated with the municipality and could open up a café for women and organized courses on health, education and issues around labour. Decision-making processes were done on the basis of consensus reaching in plenary and everybody who attended the meetings had a say. IMECE also founded a cooperative to take on home-based work from nearby factories. IMECE turned into an association in 2004.

What triggered the focus on domestic workers was the fact, that there was an increasing number of fatal accidents of domestic workers. When cleaning windows, they felt outside of the windows of the high buildings. IMECE decided to make the accidents visible by taking the issue to the streets and by trying to attract the mainstream media. This strategy was effective. However, after a while they realized that this was not enough but that they had to create pressure on the government administration to take action. They concentrated on one case of a fatal accident, involved the family, a lawyer and a labour inspector and managed to prove that the accident was in fact an accident at work, which would imply that the women was a workers. There was a hearing on the case and IMECE involved the media. The attention to the problems of domestic workers was broadened by including the demand to ratify C 189.

Programs/main areas of work / Campaigns

C 189 campaign

IMECE used a C 189 campaign to mobilize for founding the union. They collected more than 1.000 signatures from citizens which supported the ratification of C 189 and went to Ankara to present the signatures to officials from the Ministry of Labour.

Broom Academy – project

IMECE has been running education courses over a two 2 year period. More than 100 domestic workers participated in the programme and were trained on their rights. Many of the participants could be recruited as members.

Social protection campaign

There are possibilities to register domestic workers for social protection coverage (health and pension). There are even financial incentives for employers so that they can get reductions on the premiums. Many employers are not aware of the system. Many members negotiated individually successfully with their employers. IMECE produced a brochure to introduce the system.

New project – online course including telephone hotline

IMECE has applied for a new EU project, to establish an online course for domestic workers. One element is to include a telephone hotline, so that IMECE can establish personal contacts to domestic workers

My Fair Home Campaign

IMECE will join the IDWF My Fair Home Campaign. The meeting on the 4th December 2016 was a kick-off workshop. More details about the campaign will be discussed at a next meeting.

Recognition of unpaid domestic work

IMECE has also started a campaign to value unpaid domestic work. The demands for women doing unpaid domestic work is to guarantee a state pension, independent from the husbands of the workers and to transform social aid, which is available for people in need into social rights.   

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