Cumartesi, Mayıs 16, 2015

Workers on strike in Turkey



Production at two separate Turkish car manufacturers part-owned by European carmakers Renault and Fiat ground to halt on Friday as workers protested wages and other employment conditions, company officials and media reports said. A Renault spokesman said work at the Turkish factory had stopped late on Thursday. Workers are protesting at the country's biggest automobile exporter, according to news reports. "This halt in output is not in line with employment laws and relevant regulations," the spokesman told Reuters on condition he was not named.[1]

 

Workers go on strike in Renault’s Turkey factory, production stops


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. The workers said a similar factory had raised its workers’ wages by 60 percent and that they too wanted better wage conditions. 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 of, are much better. The labor agreement at the Bosch factory was renewed in December 2015.[2] 


Tofas workers to support strike at Renault's Turkish branch


Late on Friday, workers at Tofaş went on strike in the courtyard of the factory, by calling those still on their shift to join on the strike, Turkish news portal T24 reported.[3] The strike of workers of the joint venture in Turkey of the French Renault car factory has been supported by the Tofas workers. They are dissatisfied with their working conditions, particularly the level of wages, Reuters reports.[4] On Friday, workers at Tofas, a joint venture between Italy's Fiat and Turkey's Koc Holding, staged their own protest, stopping the assembly line, CNN Turk television reported.[5] Renault has operated in Turkey since 1969 when it established a joint venture with OYAK, the Turkish army's pension fund.[6] Oyak Renault, produced around 318,000 cars last year, according to industry association figures, accounting for more than 43 percent of the total car market.

Dogan News Agency reported that around 400 vehicles are manufactured at the plant in a single shift. Tofas builds Fiat's Linea car, Doblo van and other models for Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Vauxhall. It produced 240,000 units in 2013, according to its website.[7] 


The Wind of Metal Workers Rises[8]


For the past few weeks, the wind is rising for the working class in Bursa, the 4th biggest city of Turkey and the hearth of automobile industry of the country.
Because the monopolies have a strong relationships with bourgeous media, these events were not much mentioned. The protests grew in factories which are the leading companies of Turkish capitalism and international monopolies.
How did the trigger pulled?
The origin of the workers protests in Bursa, that started on 14th April in French capital Renault factories, is the discontent accumulated for years against the open collaboration of Turkish Metal Union (Türk Metal Sendikası) which has the highest number of members in Turkey (180 thousand workers) with bosses.

The main reason of this explosion sprang from the process held in German monopoly Bosch’s Bursa plants. In 2012, a great number of Bosch workers in Bursa (which employs around 6000 workers) have resigned from Türk Metal which is a member of Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ). Why these workers had resigned was due to the union’s treason in collective bargaining agreement process and their lacking support. Thereupon these workers became members of United Metal Workers’ Union (Birleşik Metal-İşçileri Sendikası), which is a member of Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK). The union choice of workers have bothered Bosch’s boss and their collaborator Türk Metal and they have tried to prevent workers by issuing threats and implementing pressure in order to forcibly convince them to re-join Türk Metal. Some workers have been fired and any kind of pressure were used on workers in Bosch. After a while, a case regarding the authorisation of the union was opened and with the collaboration of Bosch, Türk Metal and Jurisdiction of State of Turkish Capital, the case was ended in favour of Türk Metal. The case lasted around 3 years and during that period Bosch workers were depreived of their right to exercise collective bargaining agreement.

After the authorisation of collective bargaining was given to Türk Metal, the delayed agreements have started. However, Bosch workers have closely followed the rise of wage which they couldn’t get due to the delay of collective bargaining agreement process and have organised protests during the new agreement process. They have forced the Board of Türk Metal to support them. As the process evolved into a strike, Bosch management had to give higher wage increases to workers than the wage increase in a group collective agreement signed between Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries (MESS) and three unions organised in metal industry, for sure due to the pressure of workers.

The current protests and collective resignments from Türk Metal had occurred after this working class movement in Bosch. Now the metal workers in Bursa claim that it is possible for an agreement like the Bosch case to be signed, but Türk Metal did not do this. Thus, initially on 14th April 2015, workers have started these protests of resignments and meetings, which had spread to whole factories now.

Thousands of workers in Renault factory have lead this process and factories like Coşkunöz, Mako have also joined and metal workers have carried out their first massive protest on 26th April in Bursa city center. In this huge protest, workers have declared that in case Türk Metal won’t be on workers side for them to gain their rights until 5th May, the workers would resign.

However, due to the collaboration of Türk Metal Board members with capitalists, they couldn’t give any promise to workers, they didn’t take workers’ threats seriously and eventually have shot themselves in the foot.

After the protest in 26th April, workers from various factories have took steps to strengthen their inner union. They have created a Council Between Factories and started making decisions democratically through this council.
The demands of workers are as follows:
- Our agreement should be re-signed on the basis of Bosch agreement
- We want to choose our representative democratically by ourselves
- We want assurance that in case we resign from the union, we shouldn’t be fired from our factories (This demand is important because some workers have been fired due to their opposition to Turk Metal and Board members of the union have asked them to be fired
- Turk Metal should leave factories immediately

On 5th of May, while workers were gathered to collectively resign from Türk Metal through internet as they previously planned, a group of people from Türk Metal have attacked the workers with rods and sticks.

During the attack, Renault workers got injured alongside two journalists from Kızıl Bayrak (a socialist newspaper). These journalists were targeted due to their close watch on the metal workers movement, they have been heavily injured by the attackers and ended up in hospital. President of the Board of Türk Metal have attended a television programme and instead of explaining the reason of why the workers are against them, he accused Kızıl Bayrak and various political platforms of this newspaper. They also distributed flyers targeting the journalists.

The attack on 5th May have fueled the anger in the factories to grow. Right after the attack, thousands of workers in Tofaş (Fiat) have started resigning from Turk Metal and started protests.

Workers from some important companies like Delphi, Valeo, Arçelik, Farba, DJC have joined the workers in Tofaş and resignations spread.

On the night of 5th May when the wind of metal workers spread to the factories, Renault factory management have fired some workers in order to stop the protests. However, in accordance with their decision, workers didn’t started work to support their friends whose entrance cards didn’t work. The workers inside has stopped the production. Workers from Coşkunöz and Mako gathered in front of Renault for support.  Eventually the factory management had to re-employ the workers which they had fired. So the metal workers gained their first victory.

Besides, after a meeting held between the management of Renault and the representatives the workers chosen, the management has been forced to promise not to fire anybody if they resign from the union. Renault management has asked for a 15 days time, telling that they will be having conversations with the general management in France until 21st May about raising the wages of workers. The workers were waiting for this period, however on 14th May, Renault declared that there won’t be any improvements in wages. This have increased the anger and tension among workers. Their anger is now not only directed against Türk Metal but also against bosses and MESS. Thousands of Renault workers stopped production and spent the whole night in front of the factory. From all over the other factories, metal workers have come for support and kept resigning from Türk Metal as a protest. The protests continues.

It is reported that the majority of the factories had already resigned from Türk Metal.
How did the metal workers organised?
Thousands of metal workers have gathered around and in guidance of an initiative called “Metal Workers’ Solidarity – MIB”. This initiative includes all metal workers, either they’re a member or not a member of trade unions, acts independently from any trade union and all the decisions, and the authorisations are of workers. Many protests and Council Between Factories have been organised through social media pages of MIB. And facebook page has become the platform for the expression of workers’ ideas, suggestions and news from their factories. The page’s number of followers increases day by day.

What does this process represent?
Now that the metal workers are trying to create their own way through the councils created to combine the struggle. Metal workers who have  lost their faith in trade unions in the metal sector are thinking of a new and independent union in which the workers are managing and decisions are taken by them.

Time is needed to get an exact view of the extraordinary process. However, there is one thing certain: working class of Turkey are having extraordinary days and now metal workers refuse any bureaucratic and boss oriented union structures. They continue decision processes via committees they have created in their factories by themselves. Another importance of this uprising is that this farewell to the Türk Metal represents a crack in 40 year-old collaboration of metal bosses and Turk Metal. However, it is still a possibility and has to be carefully approached that the pressure overcame by the struggle of workers like in Renault could be re-used by factory managements in case the movement weakens.

For short, a new era starts for the working class in Turkey. We will be in solidarity and will see the consequences this process will create.



[1] http://www.cnbc.com/id/102684087
[2] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/workers-go-on-strike-in-renaults-turkey-factory-production-stops.aspx?pageID=238&nID=82465&NewsCatID=347
[3] http://business.bgnnews.com/workers-at-fiats-turkish-wing-strike-in-solidarity-with-renault-laborers-haberi/6013
[4] http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/economy/71099.html
[5] http://www.cnbc.com/id/102684087
[6] http://www.industryweek.com/labor-employment-policy/thousands-renault-workers-strike-turkey
[7] http://www.cnbc.com/id/102684087