Workers at 17  textile and garment factories are due to go on strike after pay talks between a labour union and employers' association broke down earlier this month.

The strike action is set to start on 10 September and could lead to losses of $3bn according to Aynur Bektas, chairman of the Turkish Garment Industry Association (TGSD).

Talks between the Union of Textile, Knitting and Garment Industry Workers of Turkey (TEKSIF) and the Turkish Textile Employers' Association (TUTSIS) have been ongoing since April.

TUTSIS has been calling for a wage freeze for the first half of 2007 and a 3% increase for the second half of the year. But the union argues that with the inflation rate predicted to be around 7.5% at the end of this year, workers will effectively suffer a cut in their real income.

Halit Narin, TUTSIS chairman, said in a statement that it is not possible to reach an agreement under the existing terms. He added: "The textile and ready-wear sector have no more competitive power, both sides has to show compromise during this period."

Factories that will be involved in the strike action include Altinyildiz, Yünsa, Vakko and Kordsa, Narin, Bahariye, Levi Strauss and Saray Hali.

TEKSIF, which has more than 20 thousand members working in 54 companies, has also been supported in its strike action by the Öz Iplik-Is Union.

Öz Iplik-Is chairman Yusuf Engin said the decision to strike came after discussions, held on behalf of 5,000 employees, failed to yield any results.

"We did not want to stop production, but because we did not receive any acceptable and reasonable offer we are using our legal right," he said.

By Altan Dinler.