Turkey: 12,000 Turkish textile workers on strike

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IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Textile, Knitting and Clothing Industry Workers’ Union, Teksif, has gone on strike as of August 15, 2013, after sectorial level negotiations with the Turkish Textile Employers’ Federation have failed. The old agreement expired on April 1, 2013.

The strike covers 12,000 workers in some thirty major textile and clothing producers, including Altinyildiz, Bahariye Mensucat, Vakko, Ak?n Tekstil, Kordsa, Karsu, Levi-Strauss, ??bir, Sökta?, Orta Anadolu, Yünsa ve Saray Hal?. With the combination of members of other two unions, Oz Iplik-Is and Tekstil who are also members of IndustriALL Global Union, the strike relates to around 20,000 workers.

According to the information provided by Nazmi Irgat, President of Teksif, the union has taken strike decision because of intransigent attitudes of the employers’ organization on wage and wage related matters. “We began to negotiate with good-will, for decent wages for our members, however the stand of the employers’ federation has led to an impasse,” said Irgat.

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Average gross salary of Teksif members is reported to be around 1,165 Turkish Liras (€ 450), and 55% of the workers in the sector earn legal minimum wage which is 978.60 Turkish Liras (€ 380). Despite the legal minimum wages, textile workers reportedly live below the poverty line, and low wages drive away the qualified workers from the sector.

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The staff turnover rate in Turkish textile sector is 37%. The stalemate in negotiations was the result of employers wanting to continue with the current wage arrangements to tide over the crisis period. Teksif’s counter offer was to go back to the earlier bonus level of 120-days salary instead of the current 72 days. However, employers’ federation offered a 90-day salary bonus, and a 3% wage hike, against Teksif’s demand for a 15% wage increase.

In his letter of solidarity message to Teksif, Jyrki Raina said, “Turkey is one of the most important and strategic countries for global textile and garment sectors. This is why success of Teksif in this strike is vital, not just for Turkish workers, but also for the rest of the world”. “IndustriALL Global Union will continue to give its full support to the striking Turkish textile workers”, Raina added.

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