— Maggie Trowe
Metal workers across Turkey
protest strike ban
Demonstrations of unionists and supporters demanding the right to strike took place in Ankara, Istanbul and other cities across Turkey in the days following a decree issued by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Jan. 30 “postponing” for 60 days a strike by 15,000 metalworkers on the day that it began. The workers are affiliated with the Progressive Confederation of Trade Unions (DISK).
The government said the strike was a threat to “national security.” Turkish labor law authorizes such an action, which in effect bans the walkout, as the dispute must then be settled by the government’s High Board of Arbitration after 60 days.
In most of the protests, metalworkers marched to local offices of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In Ankara Feb. 4, workers carried a DISK banner that read, “The right to strike cannot be banned.” Some were arrested. Six days later, some 400 miners from the western town of Soma, where a mine explosion killed 301 workers in May 2013, marched on parliament demanding severance pay promised by officials after the accident.
In Mersin province on the Mediterranean coast Feb. 3, metalworkers were joined by a group of laid-off city workers.
Some 300 workers from Celik-Is steel plant in Sivas province in central Turkey held a protest, saying they had not been paid since November 2014.
At the Ejot Tezmak plant in Istanbul, 82 workers quit, but after negotiations they went back to work Feb. 10.
— Yasemin Aydinoglu
Child care workers in Israel hold 1-day strike for pay, pensions
Nearly 1,000 child care workers rallied in front of the Ministry of the Economy in Jerusalem during a one-day nationwide strike in Israel Feb. 9 to demand higher pay from the government and pensions.
Some 2,500 workers organized by the Koach La Ovdim (Workers Power) trade union federation, out of 3,400 nationwide, took part in the work stoppage. Most of the caregivers are women, who run day care centers for a maximum of five children up to 3 years old. About 40 percent are Arab, 35 percent ultra-Orthodox Jews and the rest mostly secular Jewish workers.
“Normally we hold picket lines when we go on strike,” Koach La Ovdim Organizational Secretary Shay Cohen said by phone Feb. 13. “But because everyone works alone in their home, we held a rally instead.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement after the protest rejecting the demands, saying that the caregivers are business owners, not workers, therefore not entitled to pensions or other social benefits.
According to Koach La Ovdim, the caregivers work 11 hours a day, five days a week. “They haven’t had a raise in three years,” Cohen said.
— Seth Galinsky
Iranian pipe workers, truckers walk out, demand back wages
Some 1,000 workers went on strike Feb. 1 demanding back pay at Safa Rolling and Pipe Mills Co. in Saveh, Iran, some 90 miles southwest of Tehran.
One worker said a plant manager told a workers’ meeting that if they didn’t like conditions at the factory they should quit, the Iranian Labor News Agency reported. Twenty-six truck drivers also joined the strike, demanding back wages.
After a series of strikes last year and an October lockout when Safa hired scabs, the Saveh City Council ordered the company to pay the workers a month’s back pay on Jan. 11 and 30, Feb. 28 and March 16, and a New Year’s bonus March 20. Two days after the second installment was due, workers walked out.
Factory management fired 10 striking workers Feb. 14. The previous week two engineers, Ali Haji Hosseini and Mohammad Reza Khoshroo, were fired for solidarity they had shown with the workers, reported Iranian Labor News Agency.
— Maggie Trowe