Turkey: Delivery workers of Yemek Sepeti strike for pay rises

Turkey is facing an economic earthquake. Official inflation approached 50 percent in January. In reality this figure is much higher (probably higher than 100%!). The skyrocketing prices, mainly due to the fall in the price of the Turkish Lira and the rise in energy prices, is having a destructive effect on the lives of working class people. The money that we have in our pockets is losing its value by the hour! 

When this economic earthquake is combined with the effects of the pandemic, it means that the work and living conditions of workers become untenable. The 50 percent increase in the minimum wage, which the government implemented in order to prevent a mass outburst, melted away before it even went into the pockets of the workers. [Read more on the Turkish economy here]

Pink tide

In this general context, the delivery workers are facing extreme pressures. This has led to important mobilisations and strikes in the last period. As we speak, there is an important ongoing strike action by the delivery workers of Yemek Sepeti. Yemek Sepeti is an online platform which has 6,200 employees. It is a subsidiary of the German multinational, Delivery Hero (which, by the way, owns the Efood delivery company in Greece in which there was also a successful strike in September)

Yemek Sepeti workers are organised in the Nakliyat İs Union, which is affiliated to the DİSK (Revolutionary Workers’ Trade Unions Confederation).

The demands of the workers include:

1. A net 5500 TL (411 euros) salary, excluding bonuses 

2. No to lay-offs of striking workers 

3. Change of their legal regulation as workers – to be classified as part of the transportation and not the services sector

4. For the freedom to unionize in the workplaces 

Nakliyat-İş has produced a call to all consumers to boycott the Yemek Sepeti platform until their demands are met. In addition, on February 5th, Yemek Sepeti workers held a widespread protest in different cities in Turkey, but especially in Istanbul, in front of the company’s headquarters. 

Because of their current battle, Yemek Sepeti workers have turned a page in their struggle to be unionised. They have achieve a collective bargaining agreement since 2020, when there were also important mobilisations. 

At the time of writing (February 7) the workers have declared that they would not accept the 17 percent raise offered to them by the employer and that they would continue their strike and sit-in in front of the company’s headquarters.  

Workers fightback

The Yemek Sepeti struggle has gained huge publicity and sparked a wave of solidarity between the wider population and especially the working class.

Small and larger strikes and struggles are taking place in many sectors in the country at the moment. In some, the resistances resulted in partial or even a complete victory (for example in the Chinese Alibaba-owned online shopping platform Trendyol). At the same time, due to the over 100 percent increase in electricity bills and the power cuts, the people organised spontaneous protests in many provinces. 

If the Yemek Sepeti battle, which is the biggest among those that are being fought today, results in a victory, we will definitely see other workers joining the resistance, especially in the transportation / delivery sector, which has grown extremely rapidly due to the pandemic. 

Yemek Sepeti workers deserve our solidarity and support!

In their words:

“The company keeps on announcing that its value has increased but offers us the minimum wage (TL 4,500). This is as if telling us that ‘we are getting by over your back.’ This a culmination of yearslong issues” 
Courier Mustafa Korkmaz on Demirören News Agency (DHA)

“Yemek Sepeti offers us the minimum wage and tells us, for example, to make TL 6,000, TL 7,000 per month, we have to distribute 1,000 units of parcels. To carry 1,000 parcels, we have to ignore traffic rules, driving at 100 kph on this avenue among cars. And this is putting our lives in danger.”[1] 

“We can’t afford our daily needs, you know? If you want to live like a human, you have to get a higher salary. If they don’t give us this, we will continue this strike” 
Firat Diler, another company courier, said to Reuters.

[1]dailysabah.com: Pay raise standoff between Yemeksepeti, couriers enters 3rd day

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