Unpaid construction workers begin to protest in eastern Turkey

A group of 130 construction workers began protesting in eastern Turkey’s Malatya province after their employer did not pay two months of wages. The workers complain of police using tear gas on the group despite their protest being peaceful. 

Fatma Keber / Gazete Duvar

130 construction workers on June 12 began protesting their subcontractor Leda Group for not paying two months of wages in the eastern Malatya province. 

The workers were employed in the restoration projects at the Bakırcılar Bazaar, which was damaged during the Feb. 6 earthquakes. 

The protesters are members of the Construction and Building Workers Union (İYİ-SEN) and stated to Gazete Duvar that they have found that their contracts were terminated after not receiving their paychecks for two months. 

İYİ-SEN President Hasan Kırlangıç explained, "The subcontractor claims it’s Leda Group's responsibility to pay the workers since they handled the insurance, but they have not paid.” 

Police entered the protest area on June 13, following orders from the employers. the police entered. The union president complained that there was no disturbance, not even slogans, but the police arrived and used tear gas to remove the workers from the site. 

“Three of our friends were beaten and detained," he continued. The workers moved their protest to another location near the market after the police intervention. 

Emre Kocabaş, one of the protesting workers, expressed their plight, saying, "We worked hard for two months, and they haven't paid us. We want to make our voices heard because we all want to go home and spend time with our families, especially with the Eid al-Adha holiday approaching. We want to meet the needs of our children."

Kocabaş noted that they couldn't find anyone to address their concerns, stating, "It seems like everyone, from the main company to the subcontractor, has disappeared. We're only facing the police. They intervene with tear gas and rubber bullets, not allowing us even the right to protest. We just want what we are owed."

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)