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Turkish paper workers picket for higher wages

16 January, 2023The majority of the 170 permanent workers at the Kartonsan paper factory in Kocaeli, Turkey, have been on strike since December last year.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Selüloz-İş called the strike after negotiations on a new collective agreement collapsed towards the end of 2022. The employer had proposed wages very close to the legal minimum wage even for workers with four years seniority at the site, while the factory in Kocaeli reported profits of TRY666 million (US$35 million) for the first three quarters of 2022. In addition, workers’ purchasing power has rapidly declined as inflation in Turkey has skyrocketed.

“Together with paper workers’ unions internationally, IndustriALL stands in solidarity with the striking Kartonsan workers. The strike is building a special bond and class consciousness at the site, 21 years after the last strike at the factory,”

says IndustriALL pulp and paper director Tom Grinter.
The picket line is receiving visits of support from other unions and has been encouraged by the recent win by Bekaert workers, who recently won an 84 per cent wage increase after fighting back against a strike ban.
The Kartonsan factory is owned by the Pak Group which has a history of anti-union behaviour and owns different companies in cardboard production and recycling, with exports to a dozen countries.

IndustriALL assistant general Secretary Kemal Özkan says:

“When I was with the Selüloz-İş strikers at their picket line on 23 December, the Kartonsan workers explained to me their frustration at the low contract proposal put forward by management in bargaining. I was inspired by the workers’ determination to strike until a fair contract is agreed. IndustriALL supports the strike that will win a fair deal for Kartonsan employees. Solidarity Forever!”

The IndustriALL flag flies proudly at the picket line in front of the factory, where there was a music festival on 14 January in solidarity with the strike.

Follow the latest developments of the strike on Twitter: @KartonsanGrev