Tugay Kartal has been working for the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) for the past 43 years; is a member of the railway workers union for 29 years and an active member of Haydarpaşa Solidarity Movement for 15 years. Due to his union activities, there were a number of administrative investigations launched against him and fines were deducted from his salary. He was tried for strike actions. One of these lawsuits is ongoing. There are two administrative investigations concerning statements he made while representing Haydarpaşa Solidarity Movement as a railway worker. There is a May 2020 decision to relocate, or rather ‘exile’, Kartal but it has not come into effect due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Tugay Kartal comes from a family of railway workers. He graduated from Demiryol Vocational School in 1977 and started to work as a dispatcher at Van Railway Station. He has been working at Haydarpaşa Railway Station for the past 32 years. He became a member of Tümray-Sen (railway workers union) on November 13, 1991, the day the union was founded. This union later joined Dem-Sen, another union in the same sector, and adopted a new name: Demiryol-Sen. Demiryol-Sen later joined Hava-Sen, organized under the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMİ), in 1995 under the United Trade Union of Transport Employees (BTS), which is a part of Confederation of Public Employees’ Unions (KESK).
Kartal served as a branch office board member for six terms since 1991 and has been serving as a workplace representative since 2017.
He was part of 19 of the 20 strike actions undertaken in the past 29 years. He underwent a number of administrative investigations. Three times he was fined and 4% of his annual salary was deducted, along with other deductions from his salary. Kartal and his colleagues were tried for each strike action they undertook. One of these trials in ongoing at the 48th Anadolu Criminal Court of First Instance.
In 2004, Kartal realized that something was going to happen at the Haydarpaşa Railway Station when he saw a photo at the TCDD District Office building of a project co-designed by TCDD and a German company. After some further investigation, the union decided to take this issue to the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and talk to Mücella Yapıcı, one of the executives of the Istanbul Metropolitan Branch. They learned that what the project was to build seven 70-story skyscrapers in a million square meters space closed to public that would serve as a World Trade Center. This meeting sowed the seeds of Haydarpaşa Solidarity Movement. Haydarpaşa Solidarity Movement was founded in 2005 when BTS and TMMOB Istanbul Metropolitan Branch joined their forces. It currently leads a struggle with 70 independent constituents. Their main goals are to protect the main function of the railway station and its environs and to ensure that the railway station that was left out of service with the Marmaray project is functional again. Haydarpaşa Watch takes place every Sunday between 1-2 pm since February 5, 2012 in front of the Station with the slogan “Haydarpaşa shall remain a Railway Station”. Tugay Kartal has been present all Sundays except for a few that coincided with his annual leaves.
In May 2020, 13 TCDD employees, who are also BTS members, were relocated involuntarily despite their high recorded merits and in violation of the provision under the workplace protection Law 4688 of the Trade Union Act. BTS announced that the justifications for this decision were the Pamukova, Çorlu train accidents, information relayed to public concerning the Haydarpaşa Railway Station and Port projects and exposing personnel cadre in and faults of the institution. Tugay Kartal filed a lawsuit at the administrative court to cease and annul the administrative decision concerning his relocation.