Police fine Cargill workers for curfew violation after brief detention for peaceful protest

A group of workers fired by American food manufacturer Cargill were fined for violating Turkey's nationwide COVID-19 curfew after being released from a brief detention by Ankara police, who told them they could travel. The workers were detained during the 1,000th day of their peaceful protest against their unjust layoffs.

Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

A group of unionized workers of the American food manufacturer Cargill were fined for violating Turkey's nationwide curfew, even though they were outside only because they were leaving their brief detention by police after peacefully protesting their unlawful layoffs.

A police escort accompanied the workers to the Ankara provincial border after they left police custody late on Jan. 11, but the workers were stopped and fined by traffic police after that point, Tek Gıda-İş Union administrator Suat Karlıkaya said. 

"Ankara Police put us on the road, saying we were allowed to travel. Then they gave the Gölbaşı police our license plate to have us fined. Is the state really testing its power on us," Karlıkaya said in a tweet just after midnight on Jan. 12. 

"We're driving back to Ankara. I hope you're proud of what you're doing to a bunch of unemployed people."

The eight workers were detained for peacefully protesting on the 1,000th day of their demonstration against unlawful layoffs by the American firm for being members of Tek Gıda-İş Union.

Riot police clashed with the workers in front of the union office on Jan. 11, where they were planning to march to the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry to read a press statement.

The workers had to ask a crowd of their supporters to leave in order to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and said that they would wait in front of the union office until police allowed them to march to the ministry. 

“Many international companies are opposed to unionization in Turkey. Cargill is an example of this," Karlıkaya told Duvar. "We are in Ankara today to lift the barriers that stand in the way of unionization."

Faik Kutlu, one of the workers demonstrating for 1,000 days, got married and had kids during the period that he has been protesting against his layoff, but hasn't seen any progress in their fight against the company, he said. 

The workers' standoff with police on Jan. 11 ended with detentions, like most of their encounters over the past few years, and they were released around midnight, after which traffic police fined them for violating the partial curfew.