Solidarity with the striking Turkish
5,000 textile workers in
Gaziantep, Turkey are taking industrial action for an indefinite
period for increased pay and for a better working environment.
It has been over a week since the struggle of thousands of textile
workers at Gaziantep Baspinar Industrial District started for
reasonable pay and work conditions. The workers at Şireci Tekstil,
Zafer Tekstil, Gürteks, Gür İplik, Canan Tekstil, Motif İplik,
Teksim and Zeki Mensucat are now on strike.
These companies are involved in millions of dollars of exports but
are refusing to offer reasonable levels of pay for workers survival.
The bosses are refusing to pay overtime to their employees, who are
forced to work between 12 and 16 hours a day. Sunday pay is refused,
or is not reflected on the payslips when paid. Those who refuse to
work on Sundays or overtime are penalised with deductions in their
pay or forced to take unpaid leave. Many workers are still paid
minimum wage or slightly higher despite having worked at the same
workplace for several years.
THE PRESSURE FROM MULTINATIONAL
The productions of these workers on strike are exported to all over
the world by their companies. However, our textile worker brothers
are at the bottom of the table of labour share in international
production. As a result of multinational corporations imposing
prices on these companies for their production, bosses in Gaziantep
pass the increased level of pressure on to their employees and
deepen exploitation of cheap labour force.
Many of the multinational giant textile and clothing corporations
are able to increase their profit margins thanks to such cruel
exploitation of labour in Turkey. This is why we have to act with
solidarity and support our textile worker brothers striking in
Having initially started with a few hundred workers, strikes are
spreading widely, with thousands of workers now involved. In 1996, a
struggle started with strikes in a few factories but spread to 20
thousand workers in 540 factories, and ended with number of gains in
workers rights after a month.
Solidarity and support at a national as well as international level
is vital for today’s struggle to succeed. The textile company
bosses, with the support of security forces, are planning to divide
the workers’ struggle, increasing pressure on the workers and
organising wide ranging attacks to force them to return to work at
We call on all workers, union representatives and unions to show
their solidarity and support to help textile workers in Gaziantep to
gain rights, strengthen their struggle and become better organised.
The demands of workers of Gaziantep are:
- Wage increase to 1000 TL
- Bonus pay at minimum wage every 3 months
- Set Sunday pay rate at 100 TL
- All pay to be reflected on payslips
Your message of protest and solidarity will be passed over to the
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İn Gaziantep‘s Başpınar Industrial District there are 690 factories
employing more than 70,000 workers. These workers’ struggle to
organise have been going on for many years.
Gaziantep Başpınar Industrial District workers organised a Workers’
Meeting on 14 July 2012 attended by 100 workers from 22 workplaces
working in textile, carpet weaving and plastics sectors, and pointed
out the importance of the unity of workers in the industrial
‘THERE IS NO OTHER WAY THAN UNITY’
The opening speech was made by Petrol-İş Union Gaziantep City
representative Halil Gümüştekin who stressed the importance of unity
in Baspinar. He said his union fully supports the textile workers’
struggle even though his union does not operate in this sector.
A number of workers gave speeches and called for struggle against
low rates of pay, stripping of severance pay and harsh work
conditions. A weaving worker who participated in the 1996 strikes in
Unaldi has mentioned his experiences in organising the struggle that
time and the gains achieved by the workers. He stated “This meeting
reminds me of our preparation meetings for the Unaldi struggle” and
further commented that “a big step have been put through with this
meeting”. He pointed to the importance of the continuity of such
meetings and said “the meeting needs to be expanded with the
involvement of at least one worker from every workplace.”
Another textile worker expressed the need to get organised as the
main issue faced by the workers in Gaziantep, and admitted workers’
lack of trust in the unions who are not managed to effectively
address their needs.
The closing speech was given by Mehmet Turkmen, EMEP Gaziantep
Provincial Chairman, making reference to the worsening work
conditions in the Industrial District he said “Unless we unite and
struggle, proposed Regional Minimum Wage is the next we will face.
There is wose to come. This meeting should be perceived as the first
step towards building up the unity of all workers at all workplaces
in Baspinar and Gaziantep”
DECISIONS TAKEN AT THE MEETING
* Petition to be organised across the Industrial District and
Gaziantep to protest the intention to strip the severance pay by
transfering it into a fund. This will be organised between August
and September, and the signatures will be delivered to the
Parliament and to the Office of Prime Minister.
* Bonuses have been stripped at all workplaces, pay levels have
melted even in the high paid carpet weaving sector. Campaigns need
to be organised for better pay and to reinstate 4 annual bonus pays
that was stripped off previously.
* Today’s figures reveal hunger threshold for a 4 member family to
be 1,200TL; However, minimum wage is only half of this amount. Our
organisation have decided to organise a campaign for the minimum
wage to be at least doubled before Minimum Wage Determination
* The work shift in most factories in the Industrial District is 12
hours a day. Even in factories that operate 8 hour work shifts there
are 12 or 16 hour shifts two days a week with the operation of group
system. Our right to have Sundays off have been stripped, weekend
holiday rights and 8 hour shifts that were won with workers’
historical struggles at heavy costs have now virtually disappeared.
Our organisation have decided to organise a struggle accross the
Industrial District to end this situation. Our main demands will be
higher pay and abolishing the compulsory 12-hour and Sunday shifts
at all workplaces.
* Struggling to improve the work conditions for the young workers
who work 12 to 16 hour shifts at unsafe and unhealthy conditions
within textile and other workshops in different parts of the city
and help them to get organised, is one of the objectives of our
* Number of self-organised protests have taken place at many
factories over the past months. These protests involved strikes or
not attending Sunday shifts were mostly unsuccessful due to lack of
organisation and prior planning. To help such protests succeed it is
vital to set up committees at these workplaces, manage the campaigns
effectively, to ensure unity of all workers at the workplace and
move ahead well organised. Therefore, it has been decided to set up
committees at every work place, starting from the ones represented
here today, and organise regular meetings.