Thousands of metal workers stop production at the Renault factory to demand better wages and a union that represents the needs of the workers. Workers from various factories have joined in the strike.
Around 5,000 workers at Oyak Renault’s factory in Bursa halted production activities during their midnight shift on May 14 and have refused to return to work since. Thousands of metal workers from other factories, including Tofaş, a joint venture of Turkey’s top industrial conglomerate Koç Holding, Coşkunöz and FIAT have gone on strike to support Renault workers on late Friday.
The Renault factory in Bursa normally produces nearly 400 cars each shift.
Bursa is the 4th biggest city of Turkey and the hearth of the automobile industry of Turkey. Metal workers’ struggle for better conditions goes back to 2012, when thousands of workers of the German Bosch factory resigned from their union Türk Metal (a member of Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, TÜRK-İŞ) claiming that the union fails to fight for the workers’ rights in negotiations with the employers. This followed several protests and eventually led to organizing an “inner council” among workers from various factories in order to take autonomous action to claim their rights.
The Renault workers, who complained about their low wages, demanded that a factory executive show up and deliver a statement, as their grievances went ignored for a month. The workers shouted slogans against the management and Metal Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Türk Metal), from which they have resigned.
A labor agreement was signed for the 2014-2017 period between Türk Metal and the employer’s union, Turkey’s Metal Industrialists Union (MESS), eight months ago. Nonetheless, the Oyak Renault workers asked for improvement in their conditions, adding that conditions for the workers of Bosch’s brake system factory, where Türk Metal is also in charge were given a 60% pay increase. The labor agreement at the Bosch factory was renewed in December 2015.
The demands of workers are as follows:
– Our agreement should be re-negotiated and signed based off the Bosch agreement
– Workers alone must be able to choose their own union representative by democratic process
– We want assurance that in case we resign from the Turk Metal union that we won’t be fired from our factories
– Turk Metal should leave factories immediately
#Turkey: Metal Workers’ Autonomous Strike Continues to Spread as Ford Workers Join
Turkey is witnessing a very important labor struggle in automotive industry. Starting with Renault workers in Bursa last Thursday, thousands of workers in several contract manufacturers to major international automotive companies have been joining the strike for better wages. Renault, Tofaş (joint venture of Fiat),Coşkunöz and Mako workers have currently halted production, and workers of Ford factory announced today that they will join the strike as of tomorrow.
Metal workers’ strike also marks an important breaking point for its being an autonomous movement. Workers’ displeasure with their union, namely Türk-İş, goes back to the collective labor agreements, for which workers blame the union that it failed to defend workers’ rights and settled for insufficient conditions. Workers from various factories have formed an inner council to take autonomous action. Workers’ demands include better wages and total dismissal of Türk-İş from their factories.
Information released by MESS – Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries states that he daily cost of strike is 175M liras (60M euros) to the employers and also effects production in other nations by disrupting the production chain.
On the 16th the workers families have gathered to march to the factory in support.