Warehouse workers at Migros, one of the largest supermarket chains in Turkey, are protesting against mass dismissals following a collective demand for a pay rise at one of its warehouses in Istanbul.
Hundreds of workers were briefly detained by the police, and 257 workers were subsequently sacked by the company on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
The employers claimed that the workers had just had a pay rise, though in actual fact this was equal only to the rise in the minimum wage imposed by the government at the end of last year, and the workers had demanded a further pay rise of 4 Turkish liras (about 26 eurocents) in hourly wages.
On 8 February, workers at the warehouse stopped work and gathered in protest, only to be attacked and detained by the police.
Now the dismissed workers are staging a protest outside the warehouse, and calling for reinstatement.
The workers, and groups of activists, are also demonstrating at various Migros stores, calling on customers to boycott the company.
The Warehouse, Port, Shipyard and Marine Workers Union (DGD-SEN) has called for solidarity with the warehouse workers.
Speaking to Mezopotamya News Agency, Neslihan Acar, the chair of the union, said that it was “workers’ resistance against conditions of slavery”.
”They promised that pay would be increased and working conditions would be improved. But instead of that they started bullying the workers still more,” she said.
“During the pandemic, when they were telling everyone to stay at home, the terrible working conditions saw no change in the stores, and even less in the warehouses. The warehouse workers of Migros started to work for about 16-17 hours a day, and injuries at work increased dramatically. This happens when employers receive support from the government. They reduced their labour costs to near zero. We’re resisting for a 4 lira pay rise.”