by Steve Sweeney
Morning Star | April 02, 2020
MORE than 15,000 construction and airport workers have been sacked without compensation in Turkey amid urgent demands for government action to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Revolutionary Building, Construction and Road Workers Union (Dev Yapi-Is) said 15,191 workers had been laid off in Istanbul in the past two weeks, with many dismissed without warning.
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak is leading to “opportunism” from bosses using the outbreak to sack workers, to insulate themselves from the burden of paying wages, the union said.
Dev Yapi-Is warned of “the peril of construction workers” who end up “stuck between unemployment and poverty.”
Many are forced to work in appalling conditions, living on-site in squalid accommodation and working long hours with little time to rest.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Ankara Filiz Kerestecioglu posted photographs from a government construction project in the northwestern city of Bursa showing 10 workers sharing a room, with 300 using the same sink and bathroom.
“We are sure that thousands of construction workers are in the same situation,” she said.
Ms Kerestecioglu warned that this placed workers at serious risk of coronavirus and called for them to be stood down from non-essential work with proper compensation.
Around 300 cleaners at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gockcen airport were also sacked without compensation today after the contract with Euroclean was terminated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under fire for appealing to the public for donations.
Unions have questioned why 130 million Turkish Lira supposedly set aside for the national unemployment fund is being used to compensate bosses instead of workers.
In an email seen by the Morning Star, public-sector workers are being forced to pay into the voluntary National Solidarity fund, with donations set to be automatically deducted from their accounts next month with the amount determined by the Supreme Court.