Representatives from 20 Turkish affiliates, mainly in export sectors like automotive, textile and petrochemical, met to share challenges and strategies in the bargaining process to protect workers’ wages.

Turkey’s official inflation rate was 64.27 per cent in 2022. However, independent inflation researchers calculated it to 137.55 per cent. The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce's Living Wage Earners' Living Index revealed that retail prices in Istanbul increased by 92.97 per cent in December, compared to December 2021.

Turkey's monthly minimum net wage for 2023 was fixed as TRY8,506.80 (US$450). According to a survey conducted by Türk-İş Confederation in December 2022, a family of four needs a minimum of TRY8,864 (US$471) to survive, putting the minimum wage below the starvation line.

Turkish unions explained their strategy to overcome the problem through bargaining processes with employers. Just two days before the meeting, Türk Metal, Birlesik Metal-Is and Ozcelik-Is, managed to get an additional wage increase following negotiations with the employers, as a supplement to the CBA in the sector.

The meeting also discussed the transformation in the economy and sectors, and it was agreed that the work launched last year on how to achieve a Just Transition in Turkey will continue.

There are a number of ongoing strikes in Turkey. Meeting participants visited the 170 members of Seluloz-Is, striking for higher wages at the Kartonsan paper factory. The union called the strike after negotiations on a new CBA at the end of 2022.

IndustriALL Global and European trade unions visited Birlesik Metal-Is members at Bekaert, who achieved a wage increase after a 18-day strike.

“Knowing the difficulties related to fundamental workers’ rights in Turkey, we will continue to support our affiliates to ensure that they can organize with decent working conditions through collective agreements and social dialogue,” said Luc Triangle, IndustriAll European Trade Union General Secretary.

“The unity among our twenty affiliated unions in Turkey is exemplary. Unions have a big role to play in the country, given the difficult economic, political and social conditions. Our global and European trade unions stand in solidarity with this struggle,” said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary.