‘Deadline coming’ for local armored vehicle producer

‘Deadline coming’ for local armored vehicle producer

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Deadline coming’ for local armored vehicle producer

The Defense Ministry has set a May 15 deadline for BMC to deliver 175 Kirpis and 105 trucks, says the head of the plant’s workers’ trade union. DHA photo

BMC, the maker of Turkey’s Kirpi armored carriers, will have until tomorrow to deliver 175 Kirpis and 105 trucks to the Defense Ministry following numerous delays due to financial problems, the head of the plant’s workers’ trade union has said.

“The Defense Ministry and BMC administration had talks, and the ministry has set a May 15 deadline. BMC was informed that if it does not make the delivery by that time, the deal to manufacture the Kirpi will be canceled,” said Halil İbrahim Tosun, the İzmir branch manager of the Türk Metal Union.

Tosun said the manufacturing at BMC plant in İzmir had been stopped since Feb. 1 when workers walked off the job to demand that salaries that had not been paid since May 2012 be given in full. If the Kirpi deal is canceled, BMC’s future will be bleak, he added.

The company has been in a tight squeeze since last May, when the company first failed to pay salaries on time, and production at BMC factories has halted several times in the intervening period. The Defense Ministry signed a deal in 2009 with BMC to produce 468 Kirpis and trucks in a range of sizes, to be delivered by the end of 2012. BMC is currently short 175 armored carriers and 105 2.5-ton-capacity trucks. Along with the military, police forces are also waiting for 468 Kirpis.

Meanwhile, Levent Şenel, the head of the Defense Industry Undersecretariat’s land vehicles department, said in March that if BMC could not solve its problems, the order would need to be procured from somewhere else.

Şenel suggested Otokar and FNNS could also develop the vehicle, but Tosun said BMC possessed the only plant in Turkey that could manufacture the Kirpi.

Union’s to meet about general strike in İzmir

Tosun said the Türk Metal Union, which announced its decision for a countrywide strike on May 6, will hold a meeting in İzmir on May 16.

The negotiations on collective labor agreement concern 115,000 workers employed in Turkey’s top automotive, white goods and metal sector companies, including Renault, Tofaş, Arçelik, Otokar, Karsan, Mercedes Benz, MAN, Ford Otosan, Türk Traktör, Delphi and Borusan Mannesman.

The union is demanding an improvement of its members’ wages and an 18 percent increase to every worker’s salary for a six-month period. It is also requesting a private pension system for all members.
Tosun, however, said employers offered only a 4.6 percent increase to the salary, only for the proposal to be rejected by the union. The metal workers’ gross wage average is 1,400 liras ($780).

Tosun said they still expected to reach an agreement with the employers before a de facto strike. The union has already staged meetings in Eskişehir, Istanbul and Ankara. After İzmir, the next meeting will be held in Bursa, he added.

“After the union announces its strike decision to the employers, it will be able to start a strike between the seventh and 60th day of this period according to the union board’s decision,” Tosun said.