Widespread strong labour unrest in large auto and supplier factories in several cities of Turkey, particularly in Bursa, known as the capital of the auto industry, brings significant gains and commitments from employers for workers.
Thousands of workers in the Turkish metal industry located in Bursa, Kocaeli, Eskişehir and others walked out as of mid-May demanding a living wage and proper working conditions which were not provided by the sectorial-level negotiated collective bargaining agreement, only signed towards the end of 2014. The angry worker actions were sparked when one large workplace in the sector got additional wage increases not long after the new sectorial agreement.
The companies faced by the unrest include major multinationals such as Renault, Fiat’s joint venture Tofaş, which also produces vehicles for Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Vauxhall, and Ford, Beltan Trelleborg Vibracoustic (TBVC), Delphi, SKT, Ototrim Automotive, Rollmech, Coskunöz and Mako.
Demands included increased wages, job security, recognition of worker representatives when bargaining with the company, and assistance in eliminating fake unions in bargaining. In addition, workers from a number of companies in and out of the sector supported the walkout and showed firm solidarity.
Even though there was huge pressure from employers and government authorities, such determined industrial action brought and continues to bring new gains to the workers. For example, settlement ended the 12 day Renault-Oyak strike on 27 May, with an immediate bonus paid to all workers of 345 Euros, and a 200 Euro bonus to be paid each month to the end of 2015. Salaries without these bonuses were low at 165 Euros per month. Similar situations were the case at other factories.
The unrest also received sympathy and solidarity from every corner of the world, particularly from IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates. IndustriALL Global Union’s Executive Committee, having met in Stockholm, Sweden on 19-20 May 2015, adopted a solidarity resolution in support of the Turkish metalworkers’ fight for union rights and fair wages in the auto sector.
“We stand in solidarity with the metalworkers in resistance and will strongly oppose any police intervention, violence or dismissals of the workers and we will communicate with the headquarters of any companies where this occurs.”
IndustriALL Global Union already took action with the headquarters of multinational companies concerned operating and sourcing from Turkey.
IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan stated:
IndustriALL Global Union is always shoulder-to-shoulder with workers who struggle for their fundamental rights and livelihoods. These unprecedented series of actions by the Turkish metalworkers seeking much better futures for themselves and their families open a new stage in Turkish labour movement history. They showed their united power for internal union democracy. We are proud of their struggle and will always stand with them until decent wages and union rights are enjoyed throughout the sector.