A group of construction workers have launched a protest over poor labor conditions in Istanbul’s Halkalı neighborhood, halting their work and blocking a busy highway. Workers said many of them had health issues due to the inhumane working conditions. They also said they couldn’t receive wages regularly and added that their meal contained parasites and worms.
The workers brandished signs and shouted slogans demanding the management’s resignation. Some angry laborers also set various construction materials on fire, partially blocking traffic in the outer western suburb. Riot police were deployed to the area as were firetrucks, which extinguished the blaze. The protests reportedly lasted for around three hours.
The working conditions of construction workers in hundreds of job sites in Istanbul have come under the spotlight after the September 6 disaster that cost 10 workers their lives. Officials from the construction company responsible for the field, Torunlar, rejected all accusations and even placed blame on the workers, prompting further anger. Worker unions and critics have repeatedly stressed that most employees in Turkey were made to work and live under unhealthy conditions and that the government is most responsible for this.
“In the first eight months of this year, 237 construction workers have died,” said opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Faik Öztrak, adding that in the past 12 years, the country has been implementing a “cruel model of growth.” He emphasized that Turkey’s shopping-center count had catapulted from 53 to 333 and that İstanbul’s mall count had reached the combined total of those found in London, Paris and Berlin.