IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Textile, Knitting and Clothing Industry Workers’ Union, Teksif, has gone on strike as of 15 August after sectorial level negotiations with the Turkish Textile Employers’ Federation have failed. The old agreement expired on April 1, 2013.
The strike covers 12,000 workers in some thirty major textile and clothing producers, including Altinyildiz, Bahariye Mensucat, Vakko, Akın Tekstil, Kordsa, Karsu, Levi-Strauss, İşbir, Söktaş, Orta Anadolu, Yünsa ve Saray Halı. With the combination of members of other two unions, Oz Iplik-Is and Tekstil who are also members of IndustriALL Global Union, the strike relates to around 20,000 workers.
According to the information provided by Nazmi Irgat, President of Teksif, the union has taken strike decision because of intransigent attitudes of the employers’ organization on wage and wage related matters. “We began to negotiate with very good-will decent wages for our members, however because this process has been put by the employers in a way not leading to the solution, we have arrived at a point of end of the words,” said Irgat.
Average gross salary of Teksif members is reported to be around 1,165 Turkish Liras (€ 450), and 55 per cent of the workers in the sector earn legal minimum wage which is 978.60 Turkish Liras (€ 380). It is further reported that textile workers live under poverty line, and because of low wages and social payments qualified workers leave the sector. The staff turnover rate in Turkish textile sector reaches 37 per cent.
The main disagreement in the negotiations was that employers wanted to keep special arrangements for wages which were agreed to survive during the period of crisis. This is why Teksif demanded bonuses return to the previous level of 120-day salary instead of the current 72 while the employers’ last offer was 90-day salary. Likewise, employers just offered 3 per cent salary increase while Teksif’s latest demand was 15 per cent.
In his letter of solidarity message to Teksif, Jyrki Raina said, “Turkey is one of the most important and strategic countries for global textile and garment sectors. This is why success of Teksif in this strike is vital, not just for Turkish workers, but also for the rest of the world”. “IndustriALL Global Union will continue to give its full support to the striking Turkish textile workers”, Raina added.