Over 900 Nestle workers in Turkey on strike over wage dispute

Over 900 workers went on strike at a Nestle factory in the northwestern province of Bursa early on June 21 after the company and the labor union, Tek Gıda-İş, could not clinch a collective bargaining deal over disputes in wage raises.

The company claimed that the proposed increase in base pay and benefits was by, on average, double the inflation rate.

The workers came together in front of the Karacabey factory, where Nestle’s chocolate, coffee and water production is carried out. Tek Gıda-İş Union President Mustafa Türker said nearly 900 workers at the factory are union members and had gone on strike, Anadolu Agency reported.

Türker said the collective bargaining meetings started at the beginning of the year and had continued up to now. “As we could not reach an agreement, we called for intermediaries to help. This did not work either so we decided to go on strike,” he added.

“We hope a compromise is reached soon. Production has now halted in the factory. In line with legal responsibilities, a certain number of workers are inside the factory for maintenance, but all other friends are outside and going on strike,” Türker said, adding that the workers are demanding a 600-Turkish Lira raise in wages on an equal basis.

“But the employer came to us with a much lower offer and we could not reach a common point. This of course does not mean the strike will last long. An agreement could be reached even if the strike has started,” he Türker.

Nestle Turkey said in a written statement on June 21 that it is providing “fair compensation in line with market conditions” to its employees throughout its global operations.

“Throughout the current process, we have proposed an increase in base pay and benefits by, on average, double the rate of inflation in order to reach an agreement. The offer is in line with industry standards, ensuring there are no full time employees on the minimum wage at the factory and that every full time employee will also receive a substantial benefits package. Unfortunately, the union has not materially moved from its original demands from February,” it stated.

“Despite our constructive approach during this process, we regret that the collective bargaining process concluded with a strike. We believe that the union’s demands would place a huge burden on the competitiveness of the factory and its long term sustainability,” it added.

“We hope that the union and our employees reconsider their position and work together to find a resolution,” the company also said.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com

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