Production stalled at Renault, Fiat plants in Turkey as workers extend protest

ISTANBUL, May 17 (Reuters) - Assembly lines at two Turkish car plants part-owned by European carmakers Renault and Fiat remained at a standstill on Sunday as workers protested employment conditions.

Workers late on Thursday began a protest at Turkey’s largest car factory, run by Oyak Renault, a joint venture between the French automaker and the Turkish army pension fund Oyak , in the northwest city of Bursa.

On Friday, workers at Tofas, a joint venture between Italy’s Fiat and Turkey’s Koc Holding, staged their own protest, stopping the assembly line at their plant, also located in Bursa, local media said.

An Oyak Renault spokesman said negotiations continued to resolve the standoff with its employees.

“This unexpected stop in production continues through today. There are a total of 2,500 workers inside and outside the plant,” he said on condition his name was not used.

“This situation has come to the point where it poses a serious danger to the automotive sector,” he added.

Union officials have said the actions amount to protests, but strikes have not been formally declared.

A local union official who is familiar with the protests, but whose syndicate is not directly involved, said the work stoppage at Tofas also continued for a third day.

No one at Tofas was immediately available to comment.

Oyak Renault produced about 318,000 cars last year, according to industry association figures, accounting for more than 43 percent of the total car market.

Tofas builds Fiat’s Linea car, Doblo van and other models for Peugeot, Citroen and Opel. It produced 240,000 units in 2013, according to its website. (Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Rosalind Russell)