Metalworkers in Turkey start a series of demonstrations for their rights

Metalworkers have decided to begin a series of demonstrations after the ongoing group collective bargaining process between the Metal Industrialists’ Union (MESS) and United Metalworkers’ Union covering 130 thousand workers resulted in a dispute on Tuesday
Thursday, 12 December 2019 14:06

The United Metalworkers’ Union (Birleşik Metal-İŞ), affiliated to the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), and the Metal Industrialists’ Union (MESS) have failed to reach an agreement in the ongoing group collective bargaining on Dec. 10.

While the United Metal Workers’ Union demands a wage increase of 34% for the first six months of the year on an average wage basis, MESS proposes a wage hike of 6.05% for the same period, which corresponds to the official inflation rate in the 6-month period before September 1, 2019.

MESS also offers an increase of 15.01% in workers’ social rights, corresponding to the official inflation rate for a 1-year period before September 1, 2019, again. Yet, the social rights proposal prepared by the United Metal Workers’ Union demands a 55% increase on average.

Furthermore, MESS proposes the abolition of the Supplemental Health Insurance, rejecting any additional increasing regarding social rights and benefits.


Following the disagreement between the United Metal Workers’ Union and MESS on the group collective bargaining, wage increases, and social rights, metalworkers started the day with protests on Dec. 11.

Beginning a series of demonstrations for a warning to capitalists, workers working at the factories where the United Metal Workers’ Union is responsible for the workers’ organization underlined that they will never let the acquired rights to be taken back.

Among the items that MESS attempts to disenfranchise the workers’ existing rights by promoting flexible working conditions with counter-offer include:

Payment of bonuses/premiums at the end of the year instead of per month, depending on actual working hours;

Playing compulsory catch-ups, leading to overtime work;

Paying 100% for those who started to work after September 1, 2019, at workplaces paying more than 100% for overtime works at the weekend;

Non-payment of the first two days of work ─ which is not paid by the Social Security Institution (SSI) ─ by the employer regardless of any medical report received by the worker;

Non-payment of compensation in lieu of notice in case workers, who have medical reports indicating ‘‘s/he can only work in light duties’’, do not accept the appropriate job offered by the employer.

Metalworkers had decided to go on strike in 2018, rejecting pro-capitalist MESS’s unacceptable offer that includes a 3-year validity period for its contract and a 6.4% wage increase.

8000 metalworkers had participated in token strikes in 30 factories last year.


Metalworkers in Turkey work in much worse conditions compared to European metalworkers, a report prepared by the United Metal Workers’ Union shows. The average hour-cost of a metalworker for an employer is 33 euros in Europe, while this amount is only 2.58 euros in Turkey, according to the report.

The report also shows based on the data of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that Turkish metalworkers only take 3.2 days off a year for medical reasons. This figure is 27.6 days in Mexico. However, the pro-capitalist ‘trade union’ MESS insists that bonuses/premiums should be paid depending on actual work, falsely claiming that the absenteeism rate of Turkish metalworkers is excessively high and that they receive ‘unnecessary’ medical reports.

Turkey has the lowest labor costs among European countries since the average hour-cost of a metal worker for a capitalist is 59 euros in Norway, 38.8 euros in Germany, 36 euros in the Netherlands, 4.2 euros in Bulgaria, and only 2.5 euros in Turkey.