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The Metal storm: 2015 wave of strikes in the Turkish automotive sector

Taştekin, Ulaş
This study analyzes politicization processes of workers in light of the wave of strikes called as the Metal Storm. Hence, Turkish industrialization strategy in the post-1980 era was investigated along with the transformation of the legal framework regulating the individual and collective employment relations by considering their effects on the automotive industry. In pursuant to this transformation, it is contended that the dominant way of trade-unionism in the sector before the resistance had been the symbiotic unionism, which is non-democratic and distant from representing the workers’ demands on the basis of the cooperation with employers. In 2015, there occurred wildcat strikes in the sector extending to 15 days in 7 workplaces as well as many other protests spanning a lot of workplaces such as dining hall protests, marches and slowdown strikes. Workers mainly demanded wage improvement and abandonment of the authorized union from workplaces. At the end, they achieved some remuneration improvements whereas they forced union to a restoration. The preliminary process of the strike, strike days and the outcomes were examined through the method of process tracing. So, attitudes and statements of involved actors were investigated in detail. For the sources, the previous studies on the events as well as media organs of the actors, reports, researches and official documents were extensively utilized. Consequently, it is observed that workers’ demands were limited to economic concerns, and they did not develop an alternative and explicit political framework to be based on class-consciousness. However, it is also identified that this corresponded to the political reality of the class struggle in the neoliberal era.