Social Dialogue matters
Today (January 29, 2015) the DISK affiliated Birlesik Metal-Is union organizes a strike in the Turkish metal sector against the collective agreement reached by the employer organisation (MESS) and two metal sector unions (Turk Metal and Celik Is). According to the organizing union, the strike would be supported by over 15.000 workers from 22 (42 according to IndustriaLL) companies in 10 regions.
The Türk-Is affiliated Turk Metal union and the Hak-Is affiliated Celik-Is union negotiated and signed a group collective agreement with the employer organization MESS over wage increases for the coming 3 years. Birlesik Metal-Is does not support the agreement and states that it would aggravate wage inequality in the sector. Through this agreement, lower wages would get only a small increase while the higher wages would progress more. The agreement foresees a starting wage of about 5,80 Turkish Lira (about 2,20 euros) per hour while the minimum wage is fixed at 5,66 TL an hour. Above the minimum wage surely, but knowing that the minimum wage in Turkey lies well below the poverty line, the striking union claims that these are not decent wages for hard work.
According to the signing parties (MESS, Celik-Is and Turk Metal), the agreement is a step in the good direction as it foresees a wage increase of about 9,78% (taking into account inflation this means a net increase of 3,78%) and extra benefices for children, schooling etc (Source).
Unions in the metal sector in Turkey
Unionization in the Turkish metal sector is relatively high for Turkey with about 16% of the approximalty 1,5 milion workers being member of a union. Most of them are member of Turk Metal (12,26%). Next to some smaller unions, Celik-Is represents 2% of the employees and Birlesik Metal-Is represents 1,78% of the employees in the sector.
Turk Metal, with about 177.000 members is by far the largest trade union in Turkey. Turk Metal and Birlesik Metal-Is are engaged in a competition because of ideological and practical reasons. Ideologically, Birlesik Metal-Is is a leftish union while the Turk Metal union is generally seen as a right wing, nationalist union. Next to these ideological reasons, the Turkish legislation on collective bargaining at the company level includes high company level threshold resulting in fierce competition between unions on the company level (more information here).
Group collective bargaining
The agreement reached by the two unions (Celik-Is and Turk Metal) with the employer’s association is a so-called ‘Group Collective Agreement’ which covers the workplaces and enterprises of all employers associated to the signing party. It therefore doesn’t cover all the workers from the sector, yet the non-affiliated employers (and employees) generally look at the agreements as benchmarks for their wage setting. Such agreements are not very common in Turkey. Most collective agreements only cover the company level and sectoral or national collective agreements are forbidden by law.
Publication date: 29-01-2015