Strikes in Turkish automotive plants expand, Mako workers latest to strike

BURDUR: Following major strikes at the Renault and Tofas automotive plants, workers at the Mako auto factory have followed suit as of Monday morning, according to news reports.

Around 800 of the 1,070 Mako factory workers assembled outside the plant at 8 a.m., while an additional 120 remained inside the factory, refusing to exit. Production stopped while workers from Valeo and Delphi factories joined the workers in solidarity.

“We have three demands. We want an agreement equal to the one [automaker] Bosch drafted in December of 2014. We do not want to see any of our co-workers losing their jobs as a result of [the strike] and we do not want the Metal Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Türk Metal) to have a presence here,” said Mako worker Serdar Mazlum, speaking to the Cihan news agency.

Visiting the protesters in front of the Tofas and Renault factories on Friday and Saturday, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Sena Kaleli and Mahmut Tanal offered their support to the workers. Tanal said: “The workers’ union reached a deal with the employers and the employees suffered in the end. The union abuses its duty and rights. In the case of misconduct, the contracts the union signed with the employees become null and void.”

Unions have long been a source of debate in Turkey, with the management of authorized unions failing to protect workers’ rights and mostly backing the government and companies. As a result, workers often opt out of being a union member, exposing them to abuse by their employers.

Meanwhile, Turkish automotive giant Tofas declared that has halted the production in its main factory indefinetely due to problems with workers.