Today in Labour History
Shopworkers in Istanbul
Western department stores played an important role in Istanbul’s retail trade in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They were important economic actors and employed hundreds of local citizens. In a research article in IRSH (vol 54, 2009, supplement), Yavuz Köse among other things explores the workforce of 'vertical bazaars', e.g. western department stores between 1889 and 1920.
A majority of employees were Ottoman Greeks, followed by Europeans and Jews. Armenians seem to have been employed less frequently. Most servants were probably of Muslim origin. Male employees dominated the scene.
Although department store employees were highly paid, even in relation to salaries in European stores, on 22 September 1908 the employees of EOB declared a strike demanding a substantial wage increase. The strike lasted three weeks.