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Turkish paperworkers at Procter & Gamble end 37-day strike

A strike by 190 Turkish paperworkers, members of ICEM affiliate Tümka-İş, against Procter & Gamble ended on 30 March. The end came when workers voted in front of the plant gates in Gebze, Turkey, for a two-year agreement.

The negotiated agreement is a significant improvement over the American company’s proposed wage freeze in the first year of the agreement. Workers will receive a 3.9% increase, an improvement over the 2% offer made by Procter & Gamble 11 days into the strike. In addition, all workers will receive a lump-sum TL 1,250 payment upon returning to work.

The second year’s wage increase, to come on 1 September 2009, will equal the rate of Turkish inflation. The company’s offer in early March was two-thirds the inflation rate. Tümka-İş retained all work rights already in the collective agreement, and won increases in certain compensations, including night-shift premium pay.

Tümka-İş General President Kemal Yilmaz thanked the ICEM and the many pulp and paper unions throughout the world which supported workers during the strike. “For success to come in a struggle against a giant multinational company such as P&G, international solidarity is a necessity,” said Yilmaz. “When it is coupled with the decisiveness of workers on the front lines, success can come easily.”

Procter & Gamble manufactures paper towels, tissue, and hygiene products, including nappies, at the Gebze plant outside of Istanbul. (6 April 2009)