Workers walk out at armored vehicle firm

Workers walk out at armored vehicle firm

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Workers walk out at armored vehicle firm

BMC’ workers that demand their unpaid salaries have stopped production since Feb. 1.

Unpaid workers have halted manufacturing at BMC, the maker of Turkey’s Kirpi brand armored carriers, in the western province of İzmir, since Feb. 1. Halil İbrahim Tosun, head of the BMC workers’ trade union, said they would not start manufacturing until the company agreed to pay all unpaid salaries since May 2012.

“We always see BMC, which contributes to the Turkish army with armored vehicles, as ‘national wealth.’ That is the reason we have made sacrifices since May,” said Tosun, the Türk Metal Union İzmir Branch Manager, in a telephone interview with Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Tosun said financial problems began for BMC last May, the first time the company did not pay salaries on time. Soon after, delays in receiving goods from subcontractors affected manufacturing, which was completely halted between May and September. Tosun demanded Çukurova, the parent company, create finances for the BMC. Çukurova is also the local shareholder in Turkcell, the country’s largest mobile operator.

BMC and workers came to an agreement in September to start manufacturing, he said, stressing that the workers received between 300 and 600 liras per month from September to November. BMC and the union reached an agreement in November that promised to pay the salaries every month on time, but without paying past unpaid salaries. Even when BMC made December payments, the workers could not receive the last month’s salary. “Despite the workers accepting all conditions because they were producing vehicles for our army and also because of their loyalty to the firm, BMC broke its commitment,” he said.

“We waited until Jan. 31 for payments, but we did not receive them. Our work stoppage began last week and is still going on. The workers stopped manufacturing, as is their legal right, and we will not change our minds until all workers receive their salaries, which have not been paid since May,” he said, adding that they would not believe BMC’s promises anymore.

An executive from the Human Resources Department of BMC said the workers were exercising their legal rights by stopping manufacturing, in a telephone interview with Hürriyet Daily News. He added that he did not have any information about salary payments.

There are 3,000 employees at BMC, 1,650 of them white-collar workers that are members of the Türk Metal Union. The workers have maintained the work stoppage inside and outside the plant 24 hours a day by stopping manufacturing and not allowing the delivery of completed goods, including 20 Kirpi.

The National Defense Ministry signed a deal in 2009 with BMC to produce 468 Kirpis to be delivered by the end of 2012. BMC is currently 150 vehicles behind the agreed schedule. Along with the military, police forces are also waiting for 468 Kirpi vehicles whose delivery date has passed.