UİD-DER youtube Web TV Twitter'da UİD-DER facebook'ta UİD-DER

Mersin Port Workers Fought and Won

1600 workers in Mersin Port, which is at the Mediterranean region of Turkey, are under persistent attacks of MIP (Mersin International Port), the company managing the port, for some time. MIP tries to divide workers, stop union activity and force the unionised workers to quit the union and sack them. On March 1, 22 workers who are organised in Liman-İş (National Port and Land Stevedores Union of Turkey) were laid off by MIP. This was followed by another 8 being sacked, and then another 4. However this attack was not received in silence by workers who went on to action on March 9 when they stopped work. Our Association, UID-DER, was also there to give its active support. We have been together with Mersin port workers for a long time in their struggles. Apart from countless events and activities through which we helped them strengthen their determination for struggle, we have always been in close comrades in arms with them in their actual fights.

1600 workers in Mersin Port, which is at the Mediterranean region of Turkey, are under persistent attacks of MIP (Mersin International Port), the company managing the port, for some time. MIP tries to divide workers, stop union activity and force the unionised workers to quit the union and sack them. On March 1, 22 workers who are organised in Liman-İş (National Port and Land Stevedores Union of Turkey) were laid off by MIP. This was followed by another 8 being sacked, and then another 4. However this attack was not received in silence by workers who went on to action on March 9 when they stopped work. Our Association, UID-DER, was also there to give its active support. We have been together with Mersin port workers for a long time in their struggles. Apart from countless events and activities through which we helped them strengthen their determination for struggle, we have always been in close comrades in arms with them in their actual fights.

The latest event we organised was a meeting under the title “The Struggle Experience of Port Workers” on March 24. Apart from the sacked port workers the meeting was attended by other port workers who are still working and municipal workers together with union officials from Liman-İş Mersin Branch.

In the first part of our meeting we showed a video about the struggle experience of Liverpool dockers. Scenes of 500 Liverpool dockers who were in struggle in 1995 in Liverpool port received great applause from the dockers of Mersin port. It has also to be noted that one of the important aspects of their struggle was the involvement of dockers’ wives in the struggle. As this is also the case with Mersin port workers, scenes from the port workers’ wives from Mersin were included in the video.

Kadir Özçelik, Liman-İş Mersin Branch chair, said: “We have watched a good example of struggle. I felt like holding hand in hand while watching. This way we are strong. They will try to break us, divide us. But they won’t be able to do that. We have to be hand in hand with every fellow worker in the port. If we lose here then the other ports will also lose. Our struggle hand in hand will be an example for them. This event was very a good and successful one. Thank you guys for your good job.” One fighting port worker said “now all port workers are united under one union. There are 1500 of us. There is nothing we can’t do, as long as we have confidence in one another, faith in one another. This port belongs to us, workers. I lost my father here in this port. He was working on day wage. He wasn’t even under social insurance. I also used to work on day wage here. Let us not leave this place to capital. There is no religion, no scripture, no God for capital. Let us all be one!”

Throughout the meeting songs by UID-DER Music Band such as “There is Struggle in the Port”, “Worker’s Song”, “Song of Resistance” were chanted all together. All workers present thanked heartily UID-DER for the meeting and said that they would extend the struggle.

UID-DER kept being in arms with port workers in all their actions after the meeting. In these actions working class songs sung by UID-DER were all in the mouths of port workers.

Port workers in Mersin Port stopped work throughout the whole port area on April 3 when bosses attempted to get in subcontractor workers from outside to break the resistance. The resisting workers talked to incoming workers who were supposed to operate the cranes so that they were convinced not to start working, and left the port. Afterwards the resisting workers occupied the cranes. On April 4, the police attacked the strike tent pitched by workers to host the resisting workers with teargas bombs and arrested union officials and workers. The injured workers were taken to hospital.

During the day many worker-friendly organisations, parties and students came to visit the striking workers and offer their support. Upon seeing the workers’ determination and afraid of mounting dissent the management eventually had to come to an agreement with the workers who finally ended the work stoppage that had continued for 53 hours. Those port workers who had climbed the cranes were enthusiastically greeted by their comrades waiting for them to come down from the cranes. While the slogan “This port is proud of you!” was chanted again and again their wives and children shed tears of happiness.

It was agreed during the negotiations between MIP management and Liman-İş that:

4 workers who work in workshops would start work on 5 April, 8 workers to start work on 8 April, 18 workers to start within 2 months and that their wages and insurance premiums would be paid during this period, and 4 workers to start sometime to be decided later on.

It was also agreed that those workers who occupied the cranes would be counted as taking 2 days off with no wage cuts, and that the law cases against workers and the union would be dropped and that the negotiations for collective agreement would restart on 6 April.

While dismantling the strike tent workers said: “The fight is not over. It is only beginning. It was for the first time that 1600 workers acted in unison in this stage of the fight. It was the longest we stopped work in the port. Our fight will continue in the port until all our friends will be reinstated.” They are right in saying this because although the process of collective bargaining is completed the process of reinstating the sacked workers is not going on smoothly. The company is still raising obstacles.

UID-DER keeps standing in arms with the port workers in Mersin and supporting their struggle.

UID-DER also carries on its campaign about work accidents among port workers who suffer a lot from work accidents. They offered a great support for the campaign. They submitted their signatures to our Association and wrote a letter in which they say:

 “We are a group of dockers working in Mersin Port. We took part in UID-DER’s campaign on ‘Work Accidents are not Destiny! Stop Workers Dying of Work Accidents!’ in order to provide our support and collected signatures in the port. We uphold the campaign carried on by UID-DER with 660 signatures we collected in the port.”

It is important to note that their support to and confidence in our Association is based on the fact that we carry on a determined fight and consistently stand by fighting workers. This confidence is mutual. We have confidence in the working class and say “organised workers are invincible”.

Long Live Our Organised Struggle!

Long Live the International Struggle Unity of the Working Class!

15 April 2013






Latest News

Share this