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Massive Textile Worker Strike in Turkey

More than 12,000 Turkish textile workers have mobilized in protest over inadequate wages, pouring into the streets.

The strike is organized by unions Teksif, Oz Iplik-Is and Teksil who represent a broad spectrum of workers from the apparel and textile industries. Among the more than thirty companies that are the object of the unions’ scorn are Levi Straus, Altinyildiz, Bahariye Mensucat, Vakko, Akin Tekstil, Kordsa, Karsu, Isbir, Söktas, Orta Anadolu and Yünsa ve Saray Hali.

Teksif president Nazmi Irgat said, “We began to negotiate with very good-will decent wages for our members, however because this process has been put by the employers in a way not leading to the solution, we have arrived at a point of end of the words.”

The minimum wage in Turkey is TRY 978.60, or $504.56. However, only an estimated 55 percent of all workers actually make that much. The average gross salary of a Teksif member is TRY 1,165 or $603.10 a month. Some say the sector is being drained of qualified workers due to unsustainable wages. The turnover rate may be as high as 37 percent.

The prospects for a speedy resolution to the conflict seem slim. While employers have offered a 3 percent increase in salaries across the board, Teksif representatives are demanding no less than 15 percent.

IndustriALL general secretary 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.”