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Solidarity wins a great victory for autoworkers in Turkey

15 June, 2020Türk Metal is negotiating their first collective bargaining agreement with Bodo Bode Doğrusan and the union has fought hard to get to this stage. Pickets, rallies, actions, but especially national and international solidarity, brought the auto parts company to the negotiating table. 


In 2019, workers at Bodo Bode Doğrudan’s production facility in Kestel, Bursa, exercised their fundamental right to join a union and the majority became members of Türk Metal. The Turkish ministry of labour issued an official certificate on 6 November 2019, confirming Türk Metal’s sufficient majority to become a bargaining partner. 

But instead of entering into negotiations, the company punished the workers for exercising their legal right to join a union.

Intimidation, threats and dismissals ensued. Bodo Bode Doğrusan terminated the employment contracts of six union members, and on 9 February an additional 75 workers were dismissed. 

But the workers fought back, refusing to leave the factory. They organized a ten-day long picket with outside temperatures below zero. 

Their demands were clear

  • reinstatement of dismissed colleagues
  • immediate recognition of the union
  • withdrawal of all court cases initiated by the company against the workers
  • immediate start of negotiations for a collective agreement

In a letter to Bodo Bode management, IndustriALL Global Union warned the company that its actions constituted

“a blatant violation of Turkish labour law as well as fundamental international labour standards, including Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining of the International Labour Organization”.  

Bodo Bode is an auto parts company supplying to auto giants MAN and Daimler, with whom IndustriALL has global framework agreements. Sourcing from socially responsible partners respecting workers’ rights is part of the agreements.

IndustriALL got in touch with some of the major companies sourcing from Bodo Bode and called on them to intervene in making the company comply with national labour law and international core labour standards. 

IndustriALL also assisted in connecting the Turkish metalworkers with German union IG Metall. IG Metall has European works councils at MAN and Daimler. Three members of the MAN European works council visited Turkey and met Bodo Bode workers to show solidarity and support. 

On 18 February, a big rally was organized at Bodo-Bode Doğrusan. At the rally, Pevrul Kavlak, Türk Metal general president, said: 

 “As Türk Metal, we have always promoted social dialogue. We have implemented that principle in every single workplace where we are organized and we are ready to implement it in here. I’m calling out Bodo Bode; either you act lawfully and you respect the workers or we will teach you about these values".

Putting further pressure on both Bodo Bode and their major customers, a special day of action was organized on 19 February. Union members staged a protest in front of Bodo Bodet and a solidarity rally in front of Daimler’s headquarters in Istanbul.

This pressure, combined with solidarity actions, contributed to a strong victory for the Turkish metalworkers. 

On 21 February, Bodo Bode ceded to the pressure from workers and customers on both national and international levels and agreed to reinstate all dismissed workers, withdraw all legal cases against them, recognize the union and start collective bargaining.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, says:

"This is a real success story and a great victory! We salute the union members' courage and determination which finally brought them this win. It is a great example of global union solidarity and strong implementation and enforcement of global framework agreements. We expect that the company will now prefer a civilized solution to conflicts, at the bargaining table."