Turkish textile workers' national strike ends in victory

Today, the Turkish textile-garment union TEKSiF reached agreement on a new contract with the main Turkish textile-garment employers' association, ending a national strike that began August 15. The new agreement sets wages and conditions for thirty factories and 20,000 workers, including 12,000 TEKSiF members and several thousand members of two other unions.

The union enjoyed 100% participation and support by the 12,000 TEKSiF members, effectively closing all thirty affected plants. The union has released a press statement and an announcement of the terms of the agreement, both in Turkish.

Workers' victory has global significance, as Turkey is one of the top sourcing companies for multinational apparel corporations. Turkey is the third largest sourcing country for Adidas, the focus of a global campaign by workers in its contract factories to demand living wages, workplace safety and stable jobs.

The terms of the new agreement meet the major demands of the union:

  • Workers' annual bonus will increase from the current two months to three months pay the first year, three and a half months the second, and to four months in the third year of the contract. This was the union's top demand.
  • Workers will be paid 200 per cent for working overtime on weekends, and 400 per cent for working on holidays.
  • Wages of workers are increased immediately by 5 percent, with another 3 percent in six months, a third increase of 3 percent six months after that, 4 percent after another six months, then after six months to 3 percent, and finally six months later 4 per cent. If the percentage of inflation surpasses these figures, the wage increases will also be increased.
  • Retirement contributions will be increased.
  • There will be no more subcontracted workers in the factories according to the agreement.

This was a very courageous strike by the Turkish union, knowing that the AKP government of Prime Minister Erdogan has for the past year been actively repressing union demonstrations with brutal force. But TEKSiF felt they had to take a stand, as the workers' real income has fallen dramatically in past years, and highly skilled and experienced workers were making little more than minimum wage.