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Turkey Strike Tensions Ease as Fiat Resumes Work

May 22, 2015
After a little more than a week on strike, hundreds of workers from local parts manufacturers returned to work Friday.

ANKARA, Turkey — One of the worst strikes in years for Turkey's thriving car industry eased Friday as Fiat employees returned to work. Production at Tofas, Fiat's joint venture in Turkey with the Koc Holding conglomerate, resumed on Friday at 0400 GMT, the company said in a statement.

The strike wave began last Thursday in Turkey's biggest car plant, the Oyak Renault factory, a joint venture between Renault and the Oyak army pension fund located in the western city of Bursa.

Hundreds of employees of Tofas, also based in Bursa, followed suit, as did hundreds of workers from local parts manufacturers. The strikes came just three weeks ahead of legislative elections on June 7 and as the economy starts to show signs of weakness after years of impressive growth under premier-turned-president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Together, production at Tofas and Oyak Renault accounts for more than 40% of Turkish auto output.

Production at the Turkish venture of Ford at two locations in the Kocaeli region had also resumed on Thursday following a temporary stoppage. However, workers were still reported to be on strike at Oyak Renault, where the strike wave had begun last week.

The Dogan news agency quoted the leader of the strikers, Ekrem Salim, as saying that attempts to broker a compromise had failed and the strike was continuing.

Meanwhile, 47 leaders of the strike movement have been summoned to appear in court in Bursa on accusations of leading an illegal work stoppage, the Radikal online newspaper reported.

The strikers have been asking for wage increases in line with those seen at other industrial firms in Bursa, where one factory is said to have offered workers a rise of as much as 60%.

Car production in Turkey has grown multifold since Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, helping fuel a decade-long economic boom. According to the Paris-based International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), Turkey produced 1.17 million cars and commercial vehicles in 2014, up from 346,565 in 2002.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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