Based on archival material including silk workers’ letters and telegraphs sent to the state authorities, including the sultan, and to the newspapers, as well as official correspondence between the local authorities in Bursa and the government, the article examines the strikes which occurred in the silk industry in Bursa and Bilecik in 1910. The silk factory workers, mostly female, wanted a decrease in working hours, an increase in their wages and exemption from paying the temettü vergisi (the profit tax). These demands were accepted neither by the factory owners nor by the government and in consequence the workers went on strike in August 1910. The strike, however, was unsuccessful.
Dalsar FahriTürk Sanayi ve Ticaret Tarihinde Bursa’da İpekçilik (İstanbul: Sermet Matbaası1960) pp. 16 25-9 236-40; İnalcık Halil The Ottoman Empire The Classical Age 1300-1600 (London: Phoenix 1997) pp. 121-6.
DalsarTürk Sanayi pp. 58-9 100-7 144-5 111-24 291-9 ; see also Erder “Factory districts in Bursa” p. 95; Quataert Donald “Machine breaking and the changing carpet industry of western Anatolia 1860-1908” in Donald Quataert (ed.) Workers Peasants and Economic Change in the Ottoman Empire 1730-1914 (İstanbul; The Isis Press 1993) pp. 109-14; Gerber Haim “Social and economic position of women in an Ottoman city Bursa” International Journal of Middle East Studies 12 (1980) 231-44.
DalsarTürk Sanayi411. Leila Erder in her article says that two Hümayun İpek Fabrikası were established in Bursa the first in 1852 in Çınardibi in the region of Cilimboz and the second two years later in Namazgah on the upper side of Gökdere see Erder “Bursa İpek Sanayiinde Teknolojik Gelişmeler” p. 115. The imperial silk factory was unable to survive for long and was taken over by a private entrepreneur in 1873 since it could not cover its expenses. For more information about the imperial silk factory see Erder “Factory districts in Bursa” p. 90; see also Çakıcı Mustafa “Osmanlı Sanayileşme Çabalarında Bursa İpek Fabrikası Örneği (1851-1873)” unpublished thesis İstanbul University 2010 pp. 20-1. I would like to thank Mustafa Çakıcı for sharing his M.A thesis with me.
DalsarTürk Sanayi pp. 401-13; Erder “Bursa İpek Sanayiinde Teknolojik Gelişmeler” pp. 114-15. For an updated list of the silk factories see also Kaygalak Sevilay “Kapitalistleşme Sürecinde Bir Osmanlı Anadolu Kenti: Bursa 1840-1914” unpublished Ph.D dissertation Ankara University 2006 pp. 234-7.
Erder“Bursa İpek Sanayiinde Teknolojik Gelişmeler” p. 115. Moreover Erder referring to the British Vice- Consul Maling gives the city population as between 70000 and 75000 and the number of reels as 4345 and the workers as between 6700 and 7800 (winders reelers cocoon sorters and auxiliary workers) in the Bursa area in the 1860s. She says that “some 9 to 11% of the city’s inhabitants may have been wage earners in silk-reeling alone monopolizing the daily work pattern far more than any type of employment does in the city today”. The largest factory might have employed 240 and 300 workers see Erder “Factory districts in Bursa” pp. 92-3. For the 1860s Quataert gives the number of workers in the silk industry as 2000. For the later years he says that the number of workers increased to 4500 in 1890 and to 7000 in 1900 and then to 19000 workers in 1913 see Quataert “Silk cloth and raw silk production” pp. 130-1.
Van Os“Bursa’da Kadın İşçilerin 1910 Grevi” p. 8. Interestingly one day before the strike started the members of the CUP Fatih (İstanbul) Branch were in Bursa to visit the CUP clubs there and join an auction for the benefit of the CUP Fatih Branch’s night lectures see Ertuğrul “İstanbul Ahali-i Muhteremesinin Brusamızı Ziyaretleri” Issue 24 1 September 1910.
Refik Halid (Karay)“Hakk-ı Sükût”Memleket HikâyeleriHikaye 1 (İstanbul; İnkılâp Yayınları 2009) pp. 139-50 141. This novel was brought to the attention of the labour historians in Turkey by Şennur Sezer and Adnan Özyalçıner see Sezer Şennur and Adnan Yalçıner (eds.) Ekmek Kavgası Emek Öyküleri 1 (İstanbul: Evrensel Basım-Yayım 2002) pp. 3-23.