Press Release From Akkardan Workers

For the Attention of the Unions, Workers and Press

We, the Akkardan workers, have been giving a fight to protect our jobs and honour for about 2 months. We have fought and are still maintaining this fight with our class consciousness, against all the efforts made by the boss to divide us and break up our resistance. However, the experiences we have had during this process, have taught us once more the struggle should not be limited to the fight against the boss. Without asking for our consent and despite our determination to keep up the resistance, the local branch and the central administration of our union, Birlesik Metal-Is (United Metal Workers Union), have taken a decision to end the resistance and even declared that they withdrew their ostensible support. Union leadership’s damaging attitude since the beginning and their unacceptable decision right at this point are forcing us to share some issues with you which we have seen as our “internal matters” so far.

First of all, we have to stress that this resistance was started with the common will and decision of workers, despite the adverse attitude of the union. Local branch executives, who “had gone on holiday” just to avoid meeting us, became obliged to step back and own our resistance, albeit ostensibly, because of our determined attitude. Yet, we had consented to the “short-time working” practice only because we were assured by our union and we had also thought that they would protect us in case the boss attempts to fire us. Similarly, because of the pressure of the union, we had also stopped our protests against the enforcement of flexible work which came together with “short-time working” practice.

The chairman of our union, who visited the picket line after our persistent demands, gave a press speech and said that the union had no information about and approval of the lay-off before it happened and that he could turn Akkardan into a new “Tekel” in Gebze if necessary, adding that “we had nothing to lose but our chains.” But soon after, it came out that the statement “they had no information” was not true. As we learned, the union officials and the boss’s representatives had come together before the lay-off and negotiated on “who and how many were going to be laid-off” and those negotiations ended in a signed agreement with the date of 22nd January. This was the explanation why the union leadership was reluctant and did not own actually our resistance from the very beginning. The workers who were still working in the factory were prevented by the union leadership from joining and supporting us during the breaks and after the working hours. They were also persistent in not organizing workers’ group visits from other workplaces that are members of our union; even the only news about our resistance on the union’s website was removed soon after.

In order to ask union management about all these, we went to the union headquarter and waited there for 3 days and 2 nights to see the chairman and hear his explanation. But he avoided seeing us and while we were waiting for him at the headquarters, he went to the factory and threatened to stop the resistance. However, because of our determined attitude, he had to meet us and after admitting that there was a written agreement between them and the boss, he tried to convince us that it was the legal procedure.

Following the disclosure of this fact, he met the boss once more upon our insistence. Following this meeting he stated that he got a promise from the boss: “on condition that the resistance stops immediately, the resisting workers could be taken back when the business gets better until July”, adding that he trusted the boss’s words. We found this unsatisfactory and declared that “we do not trust words and want a written agreement.” Then we handed our demands in headlines to the union leadership and asked them to carry out the talks within the framework of these demands. Even those rightful and reasonable demands were opposed by the union officials who said “do you want to keep resisting? The boss would not accept these.”

Right at the moment, the chairman has shown us that he has not stood behind his promises. Akkardan Factory is a unionized workplace since the times of DISK Maden-Is. Now we are asking: instead of cherishing our union’s historical tradition which is based on class-unionism and which says that the word and the decision belong to the rank-and-file; shall we betray it? How come a chairman can take the decision to end the resistance without asking us for our opinion? Apparently, they have turned their back on our fight from the very beginning. And the written agreement which is signed under the chairman’s acknowledgement and approval is the clearest evidence for this.

Despite all these, we, the Akkardan workers, want you to know that we will defend the historical tradition of DISK (Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions) and Maden-Is and will also protect Birlesik Metal-Is. Unions do not belong to bureaucrats but to workers and they are the weapons of our class struggle. But unless we lay claim to our unions and control our officials and unless we remember that union means “us” and word and decision belong to the rank-and-file; our unions would stop being our struggle organizations. In fact, to stand against the joblessness and poverty caused by the crisis and to make the bosses pay the bill for this crisis, we need fighting unions. As members of the working class, we will keep up the struggle in this spirit.

Long Live Our Akkardan Resistance!

Resisting Akkardan Workers

10 April 2010