Government, bosses urge car workers to end protests

Government, bosses urge car workers to end protests

Government, bosses urge car workers to end protests

Reuters Photo

Renault could reconsider investment in Turkey after a labor dispute has stopped production at its Turkish joint venture Oyak Renault, the French car maker’s head of Eurasia said on May 21, as quoted by Reuters. 

Renault’s Jean Christophe Kugler told reporters Turkey was a high-potential market which Renault had bet on for the long term and the dispute was a threat not only to Turkey, a major automotive parts producer, but also to the global industry.

Tofaş and Ford unit Ford Otosan as well as Oyak Renault have all halted their output because of a widening labor dispute in the country. The industrial action over working conditions and pay has spread to a number of parts suppliers clustered around the northwestern city of Bursa, the hub of the Turkish auto industry. 

Only employees at Ford Otosan and auto part maker Coşkunöz in Bursa returned to work on May 21 after talks between workers and management, as the labor protests continued in others, which have a significant share of Turkey’s annual vehicle production. 

Earlier, Industry Minister Fikri Işık said he wanted to see an immediate resumption of output, saying the workers’ demands could be discussed while production continues.

Speaking to reporters at a popular car show in Istanbul, Işık said the dispute was harming Turkish exports but production losses so far could be recovered.

“Demands and expectations between employee and employers can be negotiated while production is going on,” Işık said, as quoted by Anadolu Agency at the opening day of Autoshow 2015 in Istanbul. 

Workers say the dispute blew up after union Türk Metal negotiated a 60 percent wage hike last month for workers at a plant run by parts maker Bosch Fren, but failed to secure a similar deal elsewhere.

Türk Metal claimed the union made a good deal with Bosch, but the wages in Bosch are still much lower than the wages of both Tofaş and Renault workers in a statement on May 20, after most of the workers had resigned from the union. Workers are also unhappy with the representation of their employer union, Turkey’s Metal Industrialists Union (MESS). 

Five automotive organizations and associations have called on workers to stop protests in a peaceful manner on May 21 in a joint declaration. The Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK), MESS, the Automotive Industry Exporters Association of the Uludağ Region (OİB), the Automotive Industrialists’ Association (OSD) and the Turkish Automotive Parts Industry Association (TAYSAD) said production was being harmed and everybody would be affected negatively if the disruption continued.  

Turkey ranks 17th in the global automobile production market and manufactured one out of every 77 motor vehicles in the world in 2014, according to figures from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. The country manufactured 1.17 million cars last year, an increase of 45,000 from 2013.