soL News talked with an engineer working at İstanbul's new airport construction site regarding the existing working conditions following the inauguration ceremony of the mega-airport on October 29 with the attendance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Although the first flight was carried out on October 29, the airport is not in operation with full capacity. As 25 thousands of workers are still working at the project site, the workers are now rushed to finish the works until December 31.
CONSTRUCTION WORKS AND FLIGHTS AT THE SAME TIME CAUSE CHAOS
"A new phase of the project has started. 25 thousands of workers are still working at different points," the engineer told soL, adding that the inauguration led to a chaotic atmosphere since the flights were launched although the construction was not completed while the workers were still working at the site.
Tens of thousands of workers had been forced to work day and night to finish İstanbul's third airport project until October 29, Turkey's Republic Day, at the request of Erdoğan and his AKP government with the aim of turning the inauguration ceremony into a show-off. Apart from long working hours, mobbing and inhumane working and living conditions at the construction site, the exact number of the workers who had been killed due to work-related deaths has remained uncertain.
"Security procedures, ongoing flights at the same time, experienced limitations due to flights, unfinished works, overworking and night shifts to compensate the lost time... All these are to lead to chaos and problems at the airport, half of which is still under construction," the engineer said.
IMPOSITION TO FINISH THE PROJECT ON DECEMBER 31
Underlining that İstanbul's new airport is not the first example in the world as it was partly put into service while the construction was still continuing, he noted, "However, we can say that it is the first airport that is inaugurated while so many workers are still working. This will influence the goal of terminating the airport on December 31, and the bosses will impose this on the workers as heavy working conditions."
He also stated that some companies, including Turkey's biggest subcontractor firms, at the airport resorted to collective dismissals following finished works at some points. He added that Turkish Airlines (THY) asked Kalyon group, the company that undertook the construction of THY's headquarters at the new airport, to increase the number of workers. The engineer told soL that the recent developments at the airport would lead to some new large-scale exploitation of workers' rights and workers' struggles in this respect.
"Such a work for such a priceless city. We announce its name as İstanbul," Erdoğan said during the inauguration ceremony of the new airport on October 29, the day of the 95th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. 33 airport construction workers are still under arrest. Hundreds of employees from the airport were taken into custody on September 15 after protesting and striking over labour violations during the rush to open the airport on 29 October.
In February 2018, more than 1500 workers had blocked the roads to protest poor working conditions and long working hours to complete the airport construction. Workers had also complained about the poor food services at the site, bed bugs in their sleeping quarters and delayed salaries. Tens of thousands of subcontracted workers working under 1500 firms have been employed for İstanbul's new airport project.