Solidarity with the striking Turkish textile workers

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 ?ireci Tekstil, Zafer Tekstil, Gürteks, Gür ?plik, Canan Tekstil, Motif ?plik, 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 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 Gaziantep, Turkey.

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 existing conditions.

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 workers, unions and employers through our federation. Please end your emails to: [email protected] 

?n Gaziantep’s Ba?p?nar 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 Ba?p?nar 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 district.

The opening speech was made by Petrol-?? Union Gaziantep City representative Halil Gümü?tekin 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”


* 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 Commission meets.
* 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 organisation.
* Number of self-organised protests have taken place at many factories over the past months. These protests involved strikes or notattending 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. (AUG 2012)