In a joint press conference organised today in Istanbul, Özcelik-Is, Birlesik Metal-Is and Türk Metal, the three Turkish trade unions organising workers in the metal industries, have announced decisive industrial action to increase pressure in their joint negotiations with the Turkish employers’ organisation MESS.

At present, wages in the metal industry are barely above the recently increased national minimum wage as a result of high levels of inflation, combined with a devaluation of the Turkish currency. Negotiations with the Turkish employers’ organisation MESS have been ongoing for some months, but have not yet produced satisfying results. The Turkish trade unions are now increasing pressure in individual workplaces by organising work stoppages for 10 to 20 minutes. Work stoppages will increase further in the next days and next week. On Sunday 19 January, mass demonstrations are planned in Bursa and Gebze, industrial regions close to Istanbul.

Yunus Değirmenci, President of Özçelik-Is insisted: “Workers are an indispensable part of production in Turkey. They need to receive their fair share of productivity. What the employers offer is far below what is acceptable to us.”

Adnan Serdaroglu, President of Birlesik Metal-Is demanded: “We must leave poverty wages behind us. Workers have the right to keep their purchasing power, certainly in a period where multinational companies present high profit results. Turkish trade unions are ready to go for further action and strike if we do not get what we deserve.”

Pevrul Kavlak, President of Türk Metal stated: “Our demands are demands for a reasonable pay increase. The inflation of the last two years destroyed the pay increases that we achieved two years ago. Turk Metal will organise mass demonstrations to make employers understand that we are serious about our demands. The unity between the trade unions is also unique and demonstrates the urgency.”

Luc Triangle, General Secretary industriAll Europe, said: “We support the demands of our Turkish trade unions. Sector Collective Bargaining is at the heart of our campaign ‘Together at Work’ and these negotiations must tackle the growing number of working poor in Turkey. As in many other countries, wages in Turkey are lagging behind productivity increases. European trade unions that are represented in multinational companies operating in Turkey, are supporting the demands of the Turkish trade unions. If needed, we will organise further solidarity action to help ensure that Turkish workers get their fair wage increase." 

For more information or further comment please contact Andrea Husen-Bradley.