Turkish steel workers on hunger strike

04 Dec

Hurriyet Daily News reported that 45 employees discharged from Turkey’s leading iron and steel producer Karabük Demir Çelik Fabrikaları or Kardemir have begun a hunger strike last week and Thursday marked their fourth day.

Workers’ families and local residents are showing great support for the workers who are occupying the sidewalk on Albay Karaoğlanoğlu Street in the northern province of Karabük. This June 2,100 workers of the 2,600 at Kardemir decided to change their union from the Çelik İş union to Türk Metal.

The statement said that the tension first began with a statement by the Kardemir administration published September 28. The factory was in need of qualified workers for new investments and to increase productivity.

Beginning in July, the factory had started recruiting new employees and canceling the contracts of some of the former workers. After the statement was released, 300 workers who were members of Türk Metal were discharged and the factory hired 1,200 new employees.

Mr Ramazan Yıldız a worker on strike said that “We have been dismissed on the pretext of low work performances. Mr Recai Başkan chairman advisor of Türk Metal said that this is done to prevent us from having authorization. A total of 4,205 employees currently work in the company.

Mr Hüseyin Şahin another worker on strike said that he has been a worker at Kardemir for 22 years. They were let go after they changed their labor union, using their constitutional rights.

He said that “My father was also a worker at this factory. They gave this factory to us for 1 Turkish Lira. Now they have discharged us from our own factory. We will continue our strike until our death. They will allow us back at the factory or we will die.”

Karabük Mayor Mr Rafet Vergili visited the striking Kardemir workers. He said that during our meeting with the Kardemir administration, we got a promise that they would stop the firings. Being on a hunger strike is not easy.

Mr Mehmet Ekici deputy of MHP Yozgat said that “Workers are suffering due to the situation. The labor unions must take responsibility in these social problems. The other side in the issue is the employer. Of course the employer is able to make plans for the future of the company and it is a joint stock company. However, employers should show the maximum effort to maintain the social peace in Karabük.”

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