Turkish auto-industry strikes close to being resolved

Several Turkish automobile factories announce return to work

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Tofas, a joint venture between Italy's Fiat and Turkey's Koc Holding returned to production this morning following Ford Otosan, another equally owned automotive manufacturing company owned by Ford Motor Company and Koc Holding. This left only Oyak Renault workers on strike.

The announcement came after Tofas CEO Cengiz Eroldu’s sit-in with representatives of the workers yesterday.

“If you start to work at 9:45 GMT [morning shift], I give you my word of honor that there will be improvement in month later,” Eroldu is said to have told workers according to media reports.

Although there are still almost 1,000 laborers in and out of the factory premises continuing to support the strike, production in Tofas factories restarted this morning with 1,750 workers returning to the factory to join 1,000 engineers who didn’t supported last week’s walkout.

The factories, belonging to Ford Otosan, resumed production yesterday after the end of the strike in Coskunoz plant, which manufactures spare parts for the company.

“After waiting for it [Coskunoz] to become stable, we informed our workers ‘no need to stop anymore, we open our 19:00 GMT shift’,” Ford Otosan General Manager Haydar Yenigun said.

Koc Holding is Turkey’s top industrial conglomerate and operates in energy, consumer durables and finance in addition to automotives. The company employs around 90,000 people and has five companies listed among the top ten biggest companies in Turkey.

However, strikes concerning the Oyak Renault factory continue. Direct talks between workers and employers have failed.

“They don’t want a solution, they are in favor of deadlock. They respond our solutions with deadlocks,” Ekrem Salim, a spokesman explained to Dogan News Agency (DHA)

“They have to decide whether to continue with Union (MESS) or accept our presence.”

According to the Renault headquarters, the strikes threaten not only their plants but their plans in the whole of Turkey.

“If this situation continues, we may review our long-term plans, since this is a threat that alters the stability,” Renault Eurasia Director Jean Christophe Kugler said to Anadolu Agency.

The strikes began on Thursday last week in the Oyak Renault factory in Bursa, and spread to the Tofas-Fiat and Ford-Otosan factories as well as suppliers such as Coskunoz and Mako.

Almost 20 thousand laborers joined the strikes demanding a raise in their salaries - in line with a recent collective agreement with Bosch - and the abolishment of the MESS (the Turkish Metal Employers' Federation).

TRTWorld and agencies