Turkish metal workers begin strike for better wages

Turkish metal workers begin strike for better wages

Turkish metal workers begin strike for better wages

Metal workers dance as part of strike in Gebze district of Kocaeli. DHA Photo

A group of metal workers began a strike on Jan. 29 around Turkey to protest poor wages in the sector and demand a better collective bargaining agreement with employers in the industry. Another group of metal workers are also planning to go on strike Feb. 19, increasing the total number of striking workers to some 15,000. 

The strike began in 22 factories in the provinces of Osmaniye, Hatay, Mersin, Konya, Kocaeli, Bursa, İzmir, Bilecik and Istanbul. The total number of factories on strike will increase to 42 by Feb. 19 unless the workers and employers come to an agreement beforehand. 

Workers in the metal sector are not being paid what they deserve based on their work environment and performance, said Birleşik Metal-İş Union head Adnan Serdaroğlu. “In Turkey, the metal sector is receiving a below-average share,” he said.

The decision to strike came after Birleşik Metal-İş, which is part of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), failed to reach an agreement with the Metal Industrialists’ Union (MESS) on wage increases and the length of collective bargaining periods.

The union has accused MESS of consolidating a system of cheap labor through its policies of providing smaller wage increases to low-paid workers, who form close to 70 percent of the total number of workers in the sector, and higher raises to better-paid workers. At the same time, the union said MESS’ desire to sign a collective bargaining deal of three years instead of two would also make cheap labor more permanent.