ESG Risk Monitor
February 19, 2024 - 7:42 pm

Workers’ Strike Like an Oasis in the Desert. The strike of the textile workers, amidst the war drums drowning out the demands of the working class, came to the forefront. How long will you work under a rain of price hikes on everything from needles to threads, natural gas to electricity?
The first strike took place on September 9th in Kayseri. At that time, there was no cross-border operation. Everyone was talking about the economic crisis. Major shoe companies had announced that they would not increase the piecework sewing prices, claiming that they were affected by the crisis. However, the workers in Kayseri resisted. One of the workers, Gökhan Kıraç, said in an interview with Evrensel: “The bosses care about Mercedes, we can’t even afford oil to make bulgur pilaf. If the economy is going to be good, the bosses should also roll up their sleeves.”
When there was a strike in Kayseri, the rhetoric of sending Syrians to safe zones was not as strong as it is today. Moreover, Syrian workers in Kayseri also joined the strike. A Syrian worker, Abdullah, told our newspaper: “We are almost working for free with the Turks. They are like that, so are we. We can’t keep up with the expenses either.” Another Syrian worker said, “Turkish, Syrian, it doesn’t matter, we are hand in hand.”
In the end, the workers in Kayseri won. They managed to get a 12.5% raise until the New Year, and another 12.5% raise after the New Year.
Meanwhile, there was unrest among the workers in Gaziantep as well. When negotiations lasting up to forty days did not yield any results, they also went on strike. However, when the strike in Gaziantep started, the cross-border operation had already begun. Despite this, the workers did not back down from their demands and their protests ended with gains under the noise of the great war. The workers in Gaziantep did not find much coverage in the mainstream media. However, at a time when hostility was fueled between peoples and racism peaked in social media posts; Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, or Syrian workers in Gaziantep showed a beautiful example of seeking rights by uniting. The division here was not between peoples but between the shoe monopolies and the textile producers/workers. The division here was the class division that is being covered up under the propaganda of war and militarism.
As the cross-border operation enters its sixth day, today, the workers in Adana are joining the chain of strikes. The workshops around the Grand Clock Tower decided to go on strike with a demand for a 50% increase in wages. Adana should not be underestimated. Because it was the workers in Adana who lit the fuse of the strikes in 2017. The strike spread to 16 major cities with around 50,000 workers participating. What made Adana important was that Turkish, Kurdish, and Syrian workers organized in joint committees. The immense power that broke down prejudices between peoples and strengthened brotherhood was based primarily on the unity of the workers.
It is clear that the essential concerns of the workers about the economic crisis, unemployment, and poverty are becoming less heard under the shadow of weapons. Just like the textile workers, the Somali miners who took to the road to Ankara for compensation rights and were blocked by police barricades are another example of this. Strikes, rallies, press releases, and union organizing, which are basic tools of the working class, are also facing bans.
While the shadow of war keeps the workers under pressure, it offers a coolness where the bosses can seek refuge and multiply their profits. The construction bosses, who say that the sector has come to a standstill due to “economic contraction,” are turning their eyes to Syria. As arms monopolies rise in the stock market, the cities that are destroyed will now lead to the rise of iron-steel and cement monopolies. Perhaps in the meantime, “safe zones” will be established and this dream will turn into a mass housing project, then let them enjoy themselves!
There is also this: It is said that 1 or 2 million Syrian refugees will be sent to “safe zones” after the cross-border operation. This is not realistic in terms of international law, ethics, and the refugees’ preference (due to reasons such as job, food, and safety). On the contrary, the real picture is this: a significant portion of the Syrians in Turkey, where 450 refugee babies are born every day and the number of born refugee children has reached half a million, are permanent. Just like the textile workers, the exploited, rights-seeking Syrian workers are now a part of our working class. Therefore, workers should focus their attention on the common struggle for rights rather than the discourse of “sending back.”
Summary of the summary…
Economic crises, wars, or operations do not end, they do not get postponed; on the contrary, they deepen. In times of war, peoples become more hostile towards each other. The way out of this dark climate lies in the unity of workers and the brotherhood of peoples. What workers need to do is not to hesitate in the face of “war and conquest” tales but to unite for the demands of “work, bread, and peace”: regardless of being Turkish, Kurdish, Syrian.

  • Turkey
Vulnerable Groups
  • Immigrant Workers
ESG Risks
  • Discrimination

Report: Workers’ strikes are spreading like an oasis in the desert; the drums of war drown out the demands of the working class as they take to the stage. Under the rain of price hikes on everything from needles to electricity, how much longer will you work? The first strike action took place in Kayseri on September 9th, before cross-border…

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