Construction workers from Turkey on strike in Tanzania

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Nearly 2,000 Turkish workers employed by the Turkish construction company Yapı Merkezi in a railway project in Tanzania have been on strike since August 5, demanding payment of their unpaid wages for the past seven months.

On the seventh day of their strike (August 11), the Yapı Merkezi workers stated, “We will continue our strike until our voices are heard and until we receive our wages. We do not charity, we want what we deserve.”

Ömer Tanrıverdi, one of the Yapı Merkezi workers who talked to bianet, revealed that he has been working on the project for 10 months and hasn’t received his salary since February. He said, “The company has put us in a difficult situation. When financial difficulties increased, they deducted $600 from friends who wanted to leave, claiming it was for the plane ticket. Lately, as more people quit their jobs, they raised this deduction to $3,000, and now it’s up to $4,000. People were practically held captive here.”

“Enough is enough”

Tanrıverdi mentioned that the company has been facing economic difficulties for the past three years, resulting in delayed payments. He continued, “I’ve been working at this company since 2016. We waited for seven months out of a sense of loyalty, but enough is enough. We are in a very difficult situation. We can’t support our families. We want our wages for four months: February, March, April, and May. We also demand a promise of regular payments for the future.”

Karabulut: “Our friends are determined”

Dev Yapı-İş, a union affiliated with DİSK (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey) has members among them and is supporting the Yapı Merkezi workers’s collective action.

Dev Yapı-İş General President Özgür Karabulut told bianet, “Our colleagues working on Tanzania’s largest railway project haven’t received their wages for seven months. The company made occasional payments, such as $100, $600 twice, and $1,000 on the fourth day of another strike. However, our colleagues are now determined not to return to work until four months’ worth of wages are paid. We are standing by them and trying to make their voices heard.”

Karabulut noted that there have also been payment delays for the Tanzanian workers on the project. “We have been in contact with the local workers’ union. The African Trade Union Confederation has also engaged in dialogue with the Tanzanian government to resolve the issue,” he added.

Protest in front of the company on August 15

Karabulut pointed out that the company has been consistently delaying payments since the pandemic began, but this is the longest delay. He continued, “Moreover, around 600 workers couldn’t bear the situation and left their jobs by signing conciliation agreements. The company has not fulfilled its promise to pay compensation to these workers when due. Starting from Tuesday (August 15), we will start a protest in front of the company’s headquarters for these colleagues.” (VC/PE)

Source:Bianet

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