Major labor protests linger though some back to work

Week-long labor protests in Turkeyand’s auto industry hub have yet to die down, although workers for auto parts producer CoikunandOz Holding compromised on a wage increase with their employer and reportedly got back to their factory on Thursday morning.
Later in the day, employees also resumed work at the Ford car factory in Kocaeli.
Earlier, CoikunandOz said the workersand’ demands were unlawful and would not be met, vowing to take legal action. Yet the firm and employee representatives reached a deal for a wage increase on Wednesday night, and the workers returned back to work on Thursday.
Protests still linger, however, with employees of leading tractor producer Tandurk TraktandOr from the central province of Ankara also striking on Wednesday in a bid to protest poor working conditions and support their colleagues in Bursa.
Major labor unrest that began on Thursday of last week at Oyak Renault, the Turkish factory for French car manufacturer Renault, has grown into a sector-wide strike, with thousands of workers from several automotive firms walking off the job in several provinces. After some 5,000 Renault workers went on strike, workers at another automaker, Tofai — a joint venture between Italian Fiat and Turkeyand’s Koandc Holding — embarked on their own protests. While metal workers at other firms such as Mako, Ototrim, and CoikunandOz followed suit until Monday, Fordand’s Turkish branch in Kocaeli province became the countryand’s third major auto maker to halt production on Wednesday. In the latest development in the chain of events, Tandurk TraktandOr of Koandc Holding joined the work stoppage late Wednesday.
On Wednesday media outlets reported that the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutorand’s Office summoned 30 representatives from among Renault employees and 17 from Tofai on suspicion of forcing workers to stop production as part of an investigation that was initiated after the two companies filed a complaint with the prosecutorand’s office.
The media also reported on Thursday that Renault management offered a one-shot bonus payment worth TL 600 for the month of May and one for the following January to its employees, but its proposal was not accepted as they see it as a temporary solution.
Oyak Renault and Tofai account for more than 40 percent of Turkeyand’s annual vehicle production. Workers say the dispute blew up after the Metal Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Tandurk Metal) negotiated a 60 percent wage hike for workers at a plant run by parts maker Bosch Fren last month, but failed to secure a similar deal elsewhere.
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Renault could reconsider investment in Turkey after a labor dispute halted production at its Turkish joint venture Oyak Renault, the French car makerand’s Eurasia head said on Thursday.
Tofai and Ford unit Ford Otosan as well as Oyak Renault have all halted production because of the dispute, which comes weeks ahead of the June 7 parliamentary election.
The general manager of the Renaultand’s Eurasia unit, Jean Christophe Kugler, told reporters Turkey was a high-potential market which Renault had bet on for the long term, and the dispute was a threat not only to Turkey, a major automotive parts producer, but also to the global industry.
Earlier, Industry Minister Fikri Isik said he wanted to see an immediate resumption of output, saying workersand’ demands could be discussed while production continues.
Speaking to reporters at a car show in Istanbul, Isik said the dispute was harming Turkish exports but production losses so far could be recovered.
The tension over working conditions and pay has spread to a number of parts suppliers clustered around the northwestern city of Bursa, the Turkish auto industry hub.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman