Europe: Turkish labor protest impacts Tofas production image

A labor protest over working conditions in turkey has recently spread across more industries, impacting the auto sector as well, with Turkish automaker Tofas having to cease operations at its factory in the northwestern city of Bursa.

The industrial clash could turn into a massive problem for the country’s government as it prepares for the upcoming general elections for the parliament set on June7. The labor action adds to the current woes, where Turkey after years of swift economic growth has been facing a decline in pace and increased unemployment levels. Protesting started late on Thursday last week at the country’s largest car plant, owned by Oyak Renault, which is a joint venture between France’s second largest automaker Renault and Turkish army pension fund Oyak. The action then spread to the Tofas factory the next day – the company is itself a joint venture between Italy’s Fiat SpA and Turkey’s Koc Holding.

According to a statement issued by Tofas, the company had to cease production at the plant pending an agreement that would end the labor action, also claiming the stoppage would not have an impact on sales – meaning the plant was already well stocked with produced cars on its parking lots. Tofas produces in Bursa the Fiat Linea and Doblo cargo and passenger van, along with other models. The production facility built 240,000 autos in 2013, the latest data available concerning production. According to industry association data, Oyak Renault’s plant meanwhile delivered around 318,000 units last year, which equates to at least 43 percent of Turkey’s internal auto market.