On the Strike of the Metal Workers
In January 29, 15 thousand metal workers who are members of United Metal Workers’ Union (Birleşik Metal-İş Sendikası) went on strike at 22 factories in 10 cities to demand a better collective bargaining agreement with employers in the industry.Because MESS (Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries) and DİSK ( Confederation of Revolutionary Worker’s Trade Unions) failed to reach an agreement on wage increases and the length of the collective bargaining periods.
Metal workers demanded a better agreement with employers and better working conditions. In their press release; they claim that employers never remunerate workers and while they are getting richer, workers are getting poorer, having serious health problems and even losing their lives due to the heavy working conditions. In metal sector, the minimum net salary of a worker is 866 TL per month and MESS proposes only 100 TL pay increase to those workers who are the 60% of the field. In addition MESS proposes 3-years work agreement. (http://www.birlesikmetal.org/basina.htm) At this point; workers accused them of trying to make cheap labor system permanent and disable the collective bargaining right of workers. They said they won’t obey that imposition.
Meanwhile, MESS claimed that other union members are happy with the 3-years work agreement. However, workers didn’t accept that and said those members are not informed about any detail of the agreement. They also warned the employers who are the members of MESS and said that they won’t sign that agreement and will deactivate MESS.
The Process of Strike and the Postponement
While the union and workers were preparing for the strike, employers demanded voting as a last resort. 22 factories voted Yes for strike and it started in January 29.However, after the day the strie had begun, Council of Ministers decided to suspend and delayed the strike for 60 days on the grounds of being “prejudicial to national security”.
The fear of employers and their government, AKP (Justice and Development Party) is not irrational because this kind of a great strike would probably be successful and inspire other workers from other sectors. MESS was also worried because 4 factories quit the union and agreed for a collective bargaining before strike; therefore it is afraid of an increase in the number of those factories.
The postponement means denying the right of strike to the working class because if there won’t be an agreement between the sides, one of them (in that case they are employers) will apply to High Council of Arbitrators and demand a certain decision for collective bargaining agreement. This means that if workers, factories, unions will not continue to resist for strike; at the end of 60 days High Arbitration Boardwill declare its decision on collective bargain agreementthat cannot be challenged according to the law. This event, undoubtedly, will result in employers’ and government’s favor.
After postponement, there were little resistances and occupations in factories but probably due to the intervention of union, they were suspended. Moreover, there are protest against it in many cities by other unions and organizationssuch as DİSK (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey), KESK (Confederation of Public Workers’ Unions), TMMOB (Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects) and TTB (Turkish Medical Association).
What Should be Done in the Following Process?
Firstly, we need to indicate that workers don’t have the constitutional security that eases the participation to strike anymore. This means that they may face with the sanctions of employers. That’s why it is important to act united and organized by holding campaigns to gain support of all workers. The ways of struggle must be formed according to the readiness level of metalworkers. Factories may not be occupied yet, but going on slowdown strikes and support them with strong press releases and protests are must in this process. Otherwise, the strike of United Metal Workers’ Union will not be able to threaten the employers anymore.
As Sürekli Devrim Hareketi (Movement for Permanent Revolution), we support metal workers in their resistance and strike. We are and will be protesting with them the decision of postponement. We won’t turn a blind eye to these pressures and impositions.
“Long Live the Workers’ Struggle!”