27,000 municipal workers threaten strike in İstanbul

Police intervene with laborers gathered near the İstanbul Municipality building.

July 18, 2008, Friday/ 19:18:00
Unable to forge an agreement at a recent meeting between the municipality of İstanbul and the Municipal Workers' Union (Belediye-İş), union leaders representing 27,000 manual laborers working for the municipality have decided to call a strike if their demands are not met within 60 days.

The union demanded a 40 percent salary increase during negotiations but was only offered 8 percent by the municipality. Workers from İston, İsfalt, İsbak, Belbim and Kültür A.Ş., companies run by the municipality, and laborers of the Zeytinburnu, Gaziosmanpaşa, Bayram-paşa, Ümraniye, Üsküdar, Güngören and Adalar district municipalities decided on Thursday to go on strike in 60 days.

Around 2,000 workers marched to the municipal building in Edirnekapı on Thursday to protest the municipality’s decision and hung a banner announcing the strike on the gate. Belediye-İş official Hasan Gülüm said: “A total of 27,000 employees are waiting for a labor agreement. They can no longer wait. Even though the negotiations have been going on for a long time, they offered us a salary increase of 8 percent. Bread, water and transportation have increased by 35 percent. No one can expect us to accept this 8 percent increase.” Police intervened and issued a warning after workers blocked traffic on Fevzipaşa Blvd. in Fatih, subsequently allowing the laborers to make a statement to the press in a parking lot owned by the municipality. Some laborers chanted slogans such as “The mayor should resign,” “We want to live humanely” and “Prepare your budget with laborers in mind, not the IMF.”

Gülüm said they do not want a strike in İstanbul -- especially not one in the summer -- and added: “İstanbul is one of the world’s most important cities. We have already seen what a strike can cost this city. Even half of this cost can meet the laborers’ demands.”

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