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Turkish glass workers secure jobs

15 January, 2013After 13-days of picketing, members of Kristal-Is Union at Turkish glassmaker Sisecam won continued employment with improved rights against the company’s decision to close down the Anadolu Glass factory in Topkapı, Istanbul as of 31 December 2012.

Sisecam’s plant closure would have caused job losses for 572 workers, 444 of whom are union members with an average seniority of 18-year. Even though the factory was in a good economic situation, Sisecam management preferred to move operations to another city in central Anatolia, Eskişehir, for more profit. But the workers were not given an opportunity for the continuation of their jobs, a right gained through more than forty years of collective bargaining led by Kristal-Is

Kristal-Is and its members reacted against the company decision, and all the workers, together with their families, occupied the factory to struggle for their jobs and future. Although the police tried to evacuate the plant by force, workers and families did not step back. Kristal-Is’ action received wide support from the whole trade union movement, politicians and the community. IndustriALL Global Union supported striking workers by intervening with company management. IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan also visited the picket line.

Following the decisive struggle and consistent support, on 9 January, Sisecam agreed with Kristal-Is over protection of jobs with gained rights. According to the agreement, those who want to work at Sisecam will be deployed to other plants of the company under the current collective agreement, temporary workers will be employed with permanent status at the Eskişehir plant, and those who want to retire will be paid an additional compensation along with their legal packages on the basis of their seniority. 

“When workers struggle, they win. This recent victory of Turkish glass workers is a clear example of this,” said Kemal Özkan. Affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union in Turkey, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russia organize workers at subsidiaries of Sisecam. Meanwhile, the Georgian Mine, Metal and Chemical Workers’ Union managed to organize workers at Sisecam’s subsidiary, and will commence collective negotiations on 15 January 2013.