10,000 tea workers walkoff in Black Sea
The strike is reportedly the largest public strike in the last 20 years.The workers of the General Directorate of Tea Enterprises (Çaykur) started a strike today in order to protest against unpaid social aids and disallowed collective labor agreement rights.
Around 10,000 workers in 58 enterprises went on strike for the first time in Çaykur’s history, as Tekgıda-İş and Kamu-İş have not been able to reach an agreement on a collective labor contract for five years, according to a Tekgıda-İş statement released today.
The strike, which is reportedly the largest public strike in the last 20 years in Turkey, began at 8:00 a.m. yesterday, announced by Tekgıda-İş Head Mustafa Türkel, union administrators, and workers in front of the Çaykur headquarters in the northern province of Rize.
“We couldn’t find a mid-way and we initiated the strike,” Türker said after the strike decision declared to the employer. “Çaykur is not laying any proposal. They just say ’we can’t give, we can’t step out of the public framework protocol.’”
Tek Gıda-İş demands 17 Turkish liras hike to their salary and Türker said their request might be high but a solution could be settled through reasonable negotiations on the table.
Çaykur General Manager İmdat Sütküoğlu, however, said in a written statement that the Tek Gıda-İş demands are not fair, nor real.
Türk-İş, one of the three trade union confederations in the country, also declared its support for the workers’ strike in a statement which said the unjust treatment of Tekgıda–İş workers could be only compensated by satisfying the union’s fair demands.
Tea producers worried about strike
Tea Producers Solidarity Association (ÇAYÜDAD), which represents more than 200,000 producers, said they were concerned about the strike. ÇAYÜDAD Head Mustafa Mavi said in a written statement yesterday that they would take a stand against both Çaykur and Tekgıda-İş if the strike continued when the new fresh tea season began.
“Tea producers are concerced because of the strike. We want both sides to take into consideration more than 200,000 producers’ legitimate calls,” Mavi said.