Railway workers on strike in Turkey's İzmir

İZBAN, the railway company in Turkey's İzmir province, tries to decrease the impact of workers' strike through falsified statements about the employees' real wages
Tuesday, 11 December 2018 11:47

İZBAN, a commuter rail system operating in the western Turkish metropolitan city of İzmir, released a disputable statement on December 9 in the wake of the railway workers’ strike. Striking railway workers blame the employer for falsifying the realities about real wages and attempting to break the strike.

Owned by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and the Turkish State Railways, the İZBAN management claimed that the people and workers of İzmir suffered because of the Union of Railway Workers (‘Demiryol-İş’ in Turkish). The railway corporation announced that the workers were paid wages much higher than the wages decided during the collective bargaining process.


As İZBAN alleges that the corporation offered 22 percent of wage increase to the workers, Hüseyin Eryüz, the chair of the railway workers’ union in İzmir, explained soL News that the İZBAN management ran up the offered amount with family allowances. Eryüz has said that the employer company has resorted to a perception operation against the workers’ strike, adding that most of the workers cannot benefit from such social allowances.

Eryüz and the railway workers’ union in İzmir have revealed a list that shows the real wages paid to the employees. Eryüz told soL news that the employer has included its own shares as well in its alleged wages for the workers. Denying the İZBAN management’s allegation about the wage increase of 22 percent, Eryüz said that the real wage increase offered to the workers was 19.22 percent.


Following İZBAN’s wage offer of 19.43 percent, the railway workers’ union in İzmir announced to go on strike with the participation of 342 workers on December 10. The union has recently released a statement, saying that the İZBAN management has attempted to deceive the people of İzmir.

“First of all, we all know that your offers for collective bargaining are not real,” the railway workers’ union has said, giving some contradictive details regarding the employer’s allegations about the offered wages to the workers. The union has also refused the İZBAN management’s allegation that the people of İzmir suffered because of the strike of the unionized workers.  

The İZBAN management has called on its seven retired machinists, who are not members of the trade union, to operate the trains on Monday during the strike of hundreds of workers for their occupational rights. The railway workers’ union has blamed the employer for breaking the ongoing strike. “Strike-breaking is a crime. İZBAN is committing this crime,” the union has noted. 


The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) members have distributed thousands of leaflets at İZBAN stations around İzmir in order to lend support to the striking railway workers. Calling on the people of İzmir to stand by the İZBAN workers, the TKP has underlined that a half of the transportation company is owned by the Turkish State Railways under the control of the AKP government, while the other half is owned by the municipality of parliamentary main opposition CHP party.

The TKP has called on the people of İzmir to support the railway workers’ struggle and their constitutional rights to collective bargaining and strike, saying that all the workers from different sectors have common interests.