Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum
I write a lot on this blog about Bridgestone/Firestone's abuses in Liberia, but the world's largest tire company has labor problems all over the world. I was just reading an article from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) about how 4,000 Turkish rubber workers, some of whom work for Bridgestone, are currently on strike. Keep reading to find out more about the fight these workers are waging.
4,000 Turkish Rubber Workers Strike Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Pirelli
ICEM Turkish trade union affiliate Lastik-İş made
good on its 8 May strike notice by calling 4,000 tyre manufacturing
workers out at four factories, operated by three multinational tyre
companies. The strikes began late on Saturday, 31 May.
Negotiations continued until the early morning hours of that day, with the employers’ association offering last-minute wage and social payment proposals to avert strikes. Those offers were presented to rank-and-file members of Lastik-İş, but were rejected by an accumulative 80% vote.
Lastik-İş President Abdullah Karacan
The strikes then began at factories of Bridgestone
Brisa Sabanci and Pirelli, and two plants operated and majority- owned
by US-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The four tyre plants are in
the Turkish cities of Izmit and Adapazari. The union and management
association has been negotiating since September 2007 on a new labour
“The decision to strike was taken by workers and I believe we shall overcome the employers’ intransigence,” said Lastik-İş President Abdullah Karacan. “The salary offer made by employers is far from meeting the work performed by tyre workers. Our decisiveness for gaining our demands is resolute.”
The union is seeking a 12% wage increase for the first six-month period of a two-year labour agreement, and the Turkish rate of inflation for each six-month period thereafter. The tyre companies are resisting inflation-rate payments for the three six-month periods. The two sides differ also on various social payments customary in Turkish work schemes.
Striking Rubber Workers at Pirelli Factory
All agenda items within the 59-article labour contract, save for the wage and social payment items, have been agreed upon by the two sides.
Goodyear operates an auto, light truck, bus, and heavy equipment tyre plant in Adapazari, employing 800 rubber workers, and a truck, bus, and agriculture tyre plant in Izmit, where 500 workers are employed. Bridgestone Brisa Sabanci, jointly owned by Japanese-based Bridgestone and Sabanci Group of Turkey, manufactures auto, truck, and heavy equipment tyres in Izmit, employing 1,500, while Italian-based Pirelli has another auto and truck tyre plant in Izmit, in which 1,200 workers are employed.