Workers from a household appliance factory in Istanbul protest against obstruction of free trade union association

On November 18, a group of workers from the Sinbo household appliance plant, located in Istanbul’s Avcılar district, began a protest in a tent camp in front of the plant’s building. The action of the workers aims to oppose the repressions of the owners of the factory against the free trade union association at the workplace. A specific reason for the start of the protests was the forced unpaid leave of workers from the plant carrying out association activities in the General Union of Workers in the Automotive and Metalworking Industries (in Turkish Tüm Otomotiv ve Metal İşçileri Sendikası-TÖMİS). The workers hold their protest every day from 06:00 to 17:00.

On the first day of their protest, the six workers held an improvised press conference in front of the progressive media, which had come to cover the event. The workers first turned to their colleagues at the plant. The workers’ speech called for an organized struggle against the capitalists, stressing that factory owners were using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext for new repressions and increased exploitation of workers.

The workers rhetorically asked: “The removal of 6 trade union members on unpaid leave is an anti-epidemic measure in a factory with 500 employees, right?” The workers pointed to the fact that the factory owners had recently hired new workers. They state that the only adequate measure against the spread of the virus is to shut down production that is not essential to the population.

“Let’s fight for our work, our dignity, and our future.”

The action of the protesting workers continued with the reading of a protest declaration. Below we will place some of the highlights in it.

“The laws passed by the government, which protect the interests of capitalists, paved the way for the living and working conditions of all workers to be further aggravated. The capitalists regard the workers as slaves who obey them unconditionally from the moment they cross the entrance of the factory. By trampling on the rights of workers guaranteed in the constitution, the labor code, and civil law, by trampling on their human rights, the capitalists allow themselves all sorts of arbitrariness in the factories. With these practices, the factories practically become a kind of concentration camp for the workers. “

“Must be put to an end to the attacks on trade union rights and the violation of all other laws!”

“To these conditions of complete violation of the laws and legal norms by the capitalists are added the attacks against the use of the right of trade union association. In previous periods, Sinbo owners fired workers who were known to be union members. In the current period, attacks against workers who are members of the General Union of Automotive and Metalworking Workers have intensified. To force union workers to quit, factory owners, using foremen and production managers, increased their repression, pressure, and threats against workers. In September, 6 workers from the plant, members of the General Union of Workers in the Automotive and Metalworking Industries, were taken on unpaid leave for 2 months. By increasing the period of unpaid leave by another 2 months, the owners of the plant are trying to instill fear in our colleagues who continue to work in the factory, and at the same time try to fully impose all their arbitrary practices, and eliminate the organized struggle of workers. “

“This is resistance against the attacks directed on human dignity and imposing of the slavery!”

In the name of our work, our dignity, and our future, we must all join in the struggle against the massive attacks on the working class. With the protest tent camp we set up in front of the Sinbo plant, we took our struggle a step further. We call on our fellow workers to organize, strengthen the struggle and turn the plant into an arena of resistance against the attack of unpaid leave, the imposition of slavery, and the attacks directed on human dignity. We can solve our problems only in this way. We can preserve and gain new rights by a struggle based on our legitimacy. ”

The demands of the protesting workers are the following:

– Provisional law №7244 of 16.04.2020 on measures against the pandemic must be repealed, the government must provide a guarantee for their jobs and incomes to all workers;

– The violations of the rights of the workers who are members of the General Trade Union of Automotive and Metalworking Workers from the Sinbo plant, who were completely arbitrarily and illegally taken on unpaid leave must be ended, and the practice of unpaid leave must be put an end.

-Illegal attacks against the right of trade union association and all other trade union rights must be terminated.

-The working hours and working conditions should be changed, taking into account the realities of the pandemic, and the health and safety of workers.

-A pay must be provided to all workers so that they can take care of themselves without having to work overtime.

-Measures should be taken to quarantine workers, especially those in workshops of the factory, where cases of coronavirus infection have been identified, and all workers should be placed on paid leave.

-To put an end to the pressure and harassment exerted on workers by foremen and production managers, by the orders of the owners of the plant.

– Ministries and relevant state agencies responsible for the health and safety of workers, must fulfill their obligations imposed on them by the laws, and to conduct inspections at all workplaces. They must stop to conceal all arbitrary practices imposed on workers by the capitalists.

After reading the protest declaration, the workers continued their protest in the tent camp in front of the factory gate. Their protest has been going on for 13 days.

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