Sugar workers call for a countrywide struggle against government's privatisation attack

Turkish sugar workers told soL that the struggle against the AKP government's privatization attack can be achieved with a joint struggle in the streets around the country
FILE PHOTO: Sugar workers.
Monday, 05 March 2018 23:47

As Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is decisive in the privatisation of sugar factories around the country, soL News talked with sugar workers from the northwestern city of Alpullu.

Founded in 1926 with the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, the factory in Alpullu is the first sugar factory in the country. The factory to be privatised is known with its world record in sugar production in 1938; however, the privatisation attack shows the impact of neoliberal and anti-Republican policies after 1980.

soL News talked with Hasan Şentekin, a sugar worker who has worked for long years in many factories around the country. Şentekin’s wife is also working as a civil servant at the same factory.

Saying that he has been working at the factory in Alpullu for six months after many other sugar factories, Şentekin told soL, "We were working at the revision [department] before the Official Gazette [announcement]. Now days pass with the fear of the closure of the factory. Workers are all worried and have future anxiety."    

"2,500 people worked at this factory in the past. The government has cut this [number] until today. They have imposed labour theft as they laid burden on one person for the works that could have been done by 20 people," Şentekin added, showing the anti-labour implementations at the factory.   


The Alpullu factory has had importance not only with its sugar production but also with its public facilities in the region. A primary school within the factory complex granted education for the workers and their children as a hospital served for workers’ health. Social facilities such as swimming pool, movie theatres, fields of sports were also available for the workers and their families.

However, the AKP government has decided to privatise sugar factories within the "New Medium-term Program" which covers the years between 2018-2020. The privatisation was officially announced on Feb. 21 in the Official Gazette.

Indicating that the names of two companies, Koton and Cargill, have come to the fore as possible buyers of the sugar factory, Şentekin said: "These incidents did not start 5 or 10 days ago. Not even 15 years. The closure process dates back to the 1980s. They destroyed all the organisations, they largely put an end to trade-unions, resulting in today. I don’t think that we can get a result with a few signatures, we have to shout in the streets."


In answer to a question on the position of trade-union, Şentekin said that it just invites the leaders of some political parties, adding that such parties cannot challenge the government. "No result can be achieved without a struggle in the streets," he noted, saying that the struggle against privatisation must be waged around all the country.

"I have had labour in sugar for 27 years; the sugar factories are my life. The contradiction of labour and capital must be revealed, the people must see it. Otherwise, any achievement is not possible, this system does not open such a way to you," the sugar worker said, concluding that all the sugar workers and labourers should join in the struggle, let alone surrendering to the government’s widespread privatisation attack.