Bediha Salnur, the Provincial Health Director of the city of İzmir, Turkey, announced that 2600 workers were poisoned and hospitalised because of the dinner they had at the construction site of Azerbaijani oil monopoly SOCAR’s Turkish subsidiary, Star Refinery, on July 18. Salnur also said that most of the workers who were brought to hospitals were treated and discharged.
Salnur stated: “739 workers consulted to our hospitals from morning until evening on Wednesday. Yesterday, several other workers also came to the hospitals with similar complaints. Approximately 2600 patients at total consulted to our hospitals in different districts of İzmir. At this moment, we have around 100 workers in our hospitals. We believe that a large part of them will be discharged until evening. There is nothing to be worried about their state of health.”
Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in the Aliağa district started an investigation, and nearly 100 people were interrogated on the issue. Yet, nobody was taken into custody.
SOCAR, on the other hand, issued a press release, and stated that they would not be having any catering services from Akyıldız Catering, responsible for the poisonous food. However, this relates to only a small number of workers working at SOCAR, not many other subcontracted workers.
Workers had protested the unhealthy food last month, and some even rallied for it. Knowing that, employers seem to have taken some precautions, calling police forces to keep watch outside the workers’ camp at the construction site. It was reported that this move was in order to create a psychological pressure on the workers.
Additionally, other 104 workers were also poisoned from dinner in a furniture-manufacturing factory operating in a village in the city of Manisa on July 19. Workers were reported to be in good condition, and some received ambulatory treatment.
The provincial organisation of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) in İzmir also issued a press statement. Underlining that the catering company’s close relationship with Turkey’s ruling AKP party is no secret, the statement said that, although workers were poisoned again and again, neither Akyıldız Company now SOCAR takes any precautions, and not even the government authorities care about the lives of the workers.
The TKP said: “A social order that has been corrupted, that offers workers nothing but death and misery. Capitalists who scrimp and save to buy cheap the meal of thousands of workers, trying to make money even from that meal. The only way for workers to get rid of this miserable system is to organise, and fight for a social order where they can work and live like human beings. We will change this order together.”