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Unity, resistance and determination bring great victory to Turkish metalworkers

30 January, 2018Despite their strike being banned by the government, Turkish metalworkers have won a wage increase of almost 25 per cent as part of a new collective agreement.

The strike was scheduled to begin on 2 February 2018. Unions refused to recognize the strike ban and vowed to continue the struggle, resulting in a remarkable achievement, advancing their wages and working conditions through a new sectoral level collective bargaining agreement covering 130,000 workers in 179 enterprises.

The two-year agreement, backdated to 31 August 2017, was signed by the three unions representing metal workers, including IndustriALL affiliates Birleşik Metal-İş and Çelik-İş, with the Metal Industry Employers’ Association, MESS.

The employers’ association MESS withdrew from its previous concessions due to the determined stance of metalworkers, and made a substantial increase in their final offer to the unions.

The first offer from MESS was a 3.2 per cent increase, at the level of realized inflation. Afterwards they increased it to 6.4 per cent in the second and to 13.2 per cent in the third rounds of negotiation. However, in the end the employers accepted a 24.6 per cent increase in wages, and 23 per cent on social benefits. Turkish metalworkers also gained complementary health insurance in line with their demands.

As their demands were largely accepted by employers, Turkish metalworkers expressed their happiness and satisfaction with the victory. Workers repeated their motto, saying “we said that this fight would never end until we say that it ends”.

In its statement, IndustriALL affiliate Birleşik Metal-İş said: “Signing this collective agreement is an achievement of metalworkers who did not recognize the strike ban. We thank everyone for their effort in this process.”

The general secretaries of IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll Europe, Valter Sanches and Luc Triangle, wrote to the Turkish metal affiliates saying:

“We congratulate all the Turkish metalworkers on their determined stance in these hard negotiations. Your unity, struggle and determination made it possible for such a great victory.

“You have made a great example to the whole world that when you stick together, anything can be achieved. We trust that this unity will be maintained.”