Turkey: A Victory of Marxist Workers' Leadership

44 workers of Tay Tekstil, which is a garment factory produce for world giant Zara, won their struggle after resistance in front of the factory in a conservative district of İstanbul, Sultangazi.

The struggle was organized and led by the Union of Textile Workers’ Force (UTWF), the worker organization of SEP. Millions of workers who work suffer from a high rate of exploitation, mobbing, long working hours, and low wages. Turkey has been turned into a hell of cheap and unorganized labor by Erdogan’s regime that one of the top exploitative sectors is the textile. For more than one year, UTWF has been organizing the workers in Sultangazi, a conservative district where thousands of workers have never experienced a struggle before.

Tay Textile workers organized against unpaid layoffs and overexploitation of the boss by establishing a workplace committee under the leadership of Marxist worker cadres of the UTWF. While the boss’s threats of dismissal continued, the workers united and made all kinds of planning in advance. Hours after the boss verbally fired 44 workers, workers began to struggle in front of the factory. The boss, who had thought that the workers would disperse, demanded a meeting with the workers a few hours later. Our comrade, who is also the workers’ lawyer, and the democratically elected spokesperson of the workers conducted the whole process transparently. In the first meeting, the boss agreed to pay the severance pay but claimed that the workers themselves quit the job and said that he would not pay the notice indemnities and that they would report it to the social security system as well. Since this meant that workers could not receive unemployment benefits, the workers decided to reject the boss’s suggestions and continue the struggle. For the next three days, although the boss demanded a meeting with the workers every day, the workers demonstrated their determination to fight until their demands were accepted by protesting in front of Zara’s head office. During the days of the struggle, the workers tried to gain the support of other workers by telling their struggles to the workers in other factories and workshops. The growing support to the workers from other factories and the determination of the workers’ committee forced the boss to accept all demands. Ultimately the boss had to accept all the demands of the workers and Tay Tekstil workers won.

The struggle of the workers in a single workplace quickly spread among the workers throughout the region. Breaking the hell of exploitation created in Erdogan’s Turkey and creating experiences of struggle among the unorganized sections of the working class is the only way to change Turkey’s future. Turkey has the largest unemployment numbers in the country’s history and the cost of living is increasing. The “normalization” debates of bourgeois actors against Erdogan’s economic and political crisis do not promise any change for the working people. Changing the social fabric by the socialists through the experience and organization of the workers’ struggle is the only way that will make a difference for the future of the working classes and the oppressed. This successful experience of textile workers means much more than a workplace struggle. It is the success of Marxist worker cadres’, which we will raise more.