Agrobay workers begin march to Turkish capital to protest layoff

Former workers of Turkey’s greenhouse giant Agrobay have begun marching to the Turkish capital Ankara in protest of their layoff for unionizing. The protesters decided to march after their local protests in Aegean İzmir province had gone fruitless for seven months.

Workers begin their march holding a banner that reads, "Agrobay give us our right."

Duvar English

Agrobay greenhouse workers in Turkey’s Aegean İzmir province on March 18 started a march to the capital Ankara province in another attempt to demand justice for their unfair layoff. 

The greenhouse giant fired 39 women workers in August 2023 without compensation for unionizing against the difficult work conditions at the greenhouse. 

An Agrobay worker who worked for one and a half years without insurance addressed CEO Arzu Şentürk, who still owed the workers paychecks and severance pay. “She is committing a serious sin. Soften your heart of stone, and pay us our due,” the worker demanded. 

The protesting workers gave a speech at the Bergama marketplace before beginning their march, according to reporting by the daily Evrensel. 

“When we demand our rights, we are battered by the police. While no one bothers Arzu Şentürk. Our accounts are blocked, whereas the rich continue life as usual,” the workers complained. 

The women workers stated they would not stop until they won their earned rights. 

The Agriculture Workers’ Union (Tarım Sen) head Umut Kocagöz emphasized that the workers’ constitutional demands had been ignored for over 210 days. 

“The Labor Ministry should resolve this issue. If it is not, we are coming to Ankara to remind them,” the union leader stated. 

The workers took to the road for the next step of their march, the Soma district of the Aegean Manisa province. 

Agrobay runs the “world’s biggest greenhouse” in İzmir’s Bergama district. In August, the company laid off 39 of its workers without compensation for 

The company denied the workers were fired for unionizing with the Tarım-Sen. Official exit documents stated the workers were fired for “abusing the employer’s trust” and “dishonest and disloyal actions,” which exempted them from severance pay. 

One company representative dismissed the workers’ protest as a “heroizing attempt,” and accused workers of “trying to earn money the easy way.”  

The dismissed workers have been protesting for compensation since August 21st, and have faced intervention and detention by the police.