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***UPDATE 28/01/2022 *** – Workers have reportedly won a 38.8 per cent pay rise after meeting with company management on the third day of the strike. More details coming soon. 

Couriers working for Trendyol – Turkey’s largest e-commerce company – are on strike for a fair pay rise, sick pay, paid time off, better conditions and workers’ participation in decision-making.

Organizing through networks and social media, thousands of couriers “have turned off the engine” with deliveries reported to have dropped by 70 per cent.

Despite the cold weather and snow, couriers are also taking action across Turkey including a protest in front of Trendyol’s headquarters in Istanbul.

As inflation spirals in Turkey, with the official figure at 36 per cent, the couriers have rejected a pay increase of only 11 per cent from the company.

“Some of our colleagues get injured and even die in work accidents. We take all the risks, and we even risk our lives to earn a living for our families. The company is making record profits over our tireless work but it is offering us a pay rise which is way lower than the inflation. We demand a fair pay policy and a pay rise that would cover the loss we have due to inflation and increasing operational costs,” said one courier.

Trendyol, which distributes around 1 million packages a day, employs 12,000 workers and relies on around 730,000 “business partners” to carry out deliveries. Workers use their own cars or motorbikes, cover all related costs, pay their own healthcare and security charges, and get paid for each parcel they deliver. To make a liveable wage, couriers need to meet unreasonable delivery quotas which lead to long working hours of 12 to 15 hours a day and a higher risk of work accidents.

Trendyol couriers can neither join a union nor bargain collectively as they are not considered as workers by the Turkish union law. According to reports, the company is trying to break the strike through intimidation and threats, and temporarily hiring workers from other companies to replace them.

Couriers demand:

  • A pay rise of at least 50 per cent that takes the increase in inflation and the even higher increase in operational costs into account, 
  • Sick pay and paid time off as they are not paid for the days when they cannot work due to sickness or when they take any days off,  
  • Reasonable quotas and decent workload,
  • An end to arbitrary pay cuts and the performance pressure over couriers,
  • No dismissal of the couriers who joined the strike.

E-commerce in Turkey has skyrocketed since the pandemic with a growth rate at 66 per cent in 2020, while its share in the commerce sector has increased from 10 per cent to 17.6 per cent in the last two years.  

“We stand united with the striking Trendyol couriers in Turkey,” said Mathias Bolton, Head of Commerce at UNI Global Union“As e-commerce booms in the country, they deserve a fair share of the profits, decent conditions and right to organize and bargain collectively.” 

Trendyol has roughly 30 million customers. The Chinese retail giant Alibaba bought the majority stake in the company in 2018 and made further investment to expand in the Middle East, Africa, and Europa. Trendyol is already the 18th biggest e-retailer in the world in terms of online traffic.