Construction workers stopped working, get fired in Turkey's Kocaeli

Workers at the construction site of the city hospital in Turkey’s Kocaeli city stopped working because they were not paid and were working in harsh conditions for months. Attempting to talk to the subcontracting company’s authorities, the workers were fired the next day
Saturday, 23 February 2019 17:00

Workers at the construction site of the city hospital to be built in Turkey’s Kocaeli city put down their tools as a reaction to continuous wage cuts, unpaid wages, and working conditions. The following day, the employer requested the workers to leave the site without any notice.

The workers had tried to start a dialogue with the authorities at the subcontractors Asen Boya and Gama Türkerler only to reach at a dead end. Some of the workers have been short-changed and some of them are not even paid at all for months whose dues are between 6,000 and 29,000 Turkish Lira (approximately $1,100-$5,500).

The workers gathered in front of the administration building inside the construction site with the demand to talk to the authorities on February 21, but the police tried to stop them. Explaining to the workers that the site was in a public-private partnership, the police said that it was going to be regarded as an act “against the government” if the workers did anything against the company. The authorities were obliged to talk to the workers, but no result came out.

Expecting to be fully paid, the workers were then requested to leave the site without any notice the next day. One of the workers had been injured at the site and was on sick leave. If his employment was also terminated, he would be fired would be on his leave.

Workers at the site live and work under harsh conditions. 28 lira ($5) is docked daily from their pay for their accommodation and meals, as well as hygiene products such as soap and toilet paper.

Workers had faced a similar situation at the same site earlier and one of them had climbed a crane to protest, which had resulted in some amount of payment.

The subcontracting construction company, BBC Construction Inc., had also tried to fire more than 100 workers back in November 2018 on the pretext that the company had bankrupted due to the economic crisis. The workers waited for 6 days to be paid and sent the word to the company that they would go on a protest if otherwise. The company finally paid the workers their salaries, but not the severance and notice pay.

City hospitals are part of the “transformation in healthcare” plan of Turkey’s ruling AKP party. The plan has been on for years now and aims to serve the capitalists while leaving healthcare personnel under pressure and patients in a health hazard.

Construction sites of several city hospitals have also witnessed workers who live and work harsh conditions protesting. Hundreds of workers had put down their tools due to severe conditions at the construction site of the Başakşehir City Hospital in İstanbul in January this year. The contractor, Rönesans Holding, had “apologized to” the workers afterward. Again, in January, workers at the Bilkent City Hospital’s site in Ankara were first taken into custody for going on slowdown strike for not getting paid for months and then were fired. Workers at the Etlik City Hospital’s site in Ankara had also gone on a protest in December last year.