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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Turkey loses another minister
Bulent Ecevit in parliament
Beleaguered Ecevit has lost a series of ministers
The Turkish Labour Minister, Yasar Okuyan, has resigned amid controversy over a draft law aimed at expanding the rights of workers.

Mr Okuyan was in favour of the bill, which lays out conditions under which workers can be fired and outlines appeal procedures.


It is high time for us to align with EU norms in this field

Turkish deputy prime minister

The bill is part of Turkey's drive to meet European Union membership standards, but employers say it will limit their freedom to hire and fire.

The law is due to be discussed in parliament on Thursday.

The row is the latest of a series of major problems to hit Turkey's ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has been forced to call elections for this November, nearly 18 months early, after a series of resignations by ministers and party members.

It was not clear exactly what had prompted Mr Okuyan's resignation, although employers' groups have been campaigning hard for the legislation to be halted.

They argue that the measures will make it tougher to operate in an already difficult economic climate.

Deputy Prime Minister Sukru Sina Gurela insisted that the plans would not be withdrawn.

"This is a new arrangement to come closer to EU and International Labour Organisation criteria," he said.

"It is high time for us to align with EU norms in this field as well, and not only with the EU's political criteria."

Last week the Turkish parliament passed major reforms, including the abolition of the death penalty, to prepare the way for EU membership.


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03 Aug 02 | Europe
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