The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Turkey:
A Wave of Strikes

Jun 8, 2015

This article was translated from the June 5 edition of Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers group of that name.

The victorious strike of 5700 workers at Oyak Renault in Bursa, along with the movements at Tofas-Fiat and the auto parts subcontractors, continue to reverberate all over Turkey. The news that comes from the big industrial centers in the west of the country shows that the strikes are progressively spreading to other industrial sectors and other cities.

The strike movement first spread to Ford in three factories in different cities, and to Turk Traktor in Ankara. There, strikers overcame a series of threats. The bosses sent text messages to the workers threatening layoffs if they didn’t return to work the next day, and they made a show of having the worker transport buses pick up a few workers to pretend that the factory had restarted. But the fighting workers didn’t give in, encouraged by the support of workers in the nearby factories.

The movement found an echo in Izmir where the 1900 workers at the Petkim refineries refused the meager 5% raise proposed by the boss, and gained most of what they wanted after occupying their workplace for a week. Not only were they supported by other workers in the region, but even better, the workers in the four industrial zones in the city started to fight for the same things. Also in Izmir, 3,500 workers from Izenerji, the municipal electricity and gas company, started to demonstrate for immediate pay raises: they had been in stalled contract negotiations for two years.

Workers at IDC and Ege Celik in Izmir had a great surprise when their bosses deposited 1000 Turkish lira (350 dollars) in each of their bank accounts in response to the threat of the movement spreading to these companies.

The victorious strike at Oyak Renault, which workers had spent months organizing and preparing for, was a great example. The fifteen million workers of the country all have the same problem: an increase in the cost of living by more than 20 percent. And the Renault strike showed that they all have the same solution ... to such an extent that in some factories the bosses can smell which way the wind is blowing and have been giving raises in fear of seeing workers stop production.

As the June 7 elections approach, the workers of Turkey have shown that they don’t have to wait for the results at the polls to answer their problems. They made their answer with the weapons of their class.