Turkey’s apparel and textile sector is reeling from global unrest, as strikes in Egypt and Turkey have dramatically reduced production.
12,000 textile workers in Turkey are on strike today after a deal to resolve a pay dispute with employers failed.
The workers are demanding a 15% pay increase and have been striking periodically for several weeks. The negotiations were expected to resolve the strike, but employers were only able to offer a 3% pay increase and an increase in the frequency of bonuses to three times a year.
The bonuses had been reduced to 2.5x per year due to financial difficulties in the Turkish textile sector.
Over 30 textile manufactures are impacted by the strike, including Levi Strauss, according to a statement released by IndustriALL Global Union. Members of two other textile unions are also participating, bringing the total workforce impact to 20,000.
The average monthly salary of Turkish garment workers is around 450 euros, and 55% of workers in the sector earn the minimum wage of 380 euros per month. This places them below the poverty line, despite the fact that their wages are significantly higher than those of most other garment manufacturing nations.
Unrest is also impacting Turkish manufacturers in Egypt, many of whom have suspended operations due to continued political violence.
Around 80% of Turkey’s $2 billion in investments in Egypt are textile and apparel firms, and many of the manufactures and retailers involved have closed. In addition to temporary closures, many firms are questioning long-term expansion plans.