BWI and EFBWW Statement Regarding the Labour Crisis at the New Istanbul Airport

19 September 2018 08:49

Turkish police detain striking workers protesting over working conditions at Istanbul's new airport..

The BWI and EFBWW (European Federation of Building and Wood Workers) condemn the recent attacks against construction workers who have been struggling for their fundamental labour and human rights at the construction site of the New Istanbul Airport.
Based on the information provided by YOL-IS, currently there more than 26,000 working at the site of the Istanbul New Airport and of this, close to 22,000 are subcontract workers employed by 281 companies.  The main contractor is Airport Construction Ordinary Partnership Joint Stock Company (İGA)
In addition, according to various sources, these subcontract workers are facing very dire circumstances ranging from low wages, delayed payment of wages, unsafe working conditions, poor and substandard accommodation facilities, harassment, and a series of human rights violations.  At the height of the crisis, serious confrontations took place resulting in the arrest of 24 workers.  
A major concern for BWI and EFBWW is the failure to implement and monitor occupational safety and health guidelines and procedures resulting in serious accidents that have left workers injured or dead. 
“There is currently lack of official data or information on the causes of these accidents,” stated Dietmar Schaefers, EFBWW President and BWI Deputy President. 
He continued, “We call for independent and official investigations into the accidents that have occurred to clarify the root causes of the accidents to prevent future accidents from taking place.  It is important that Turkey adheres to international safety and health standards.”  
The BWI and EFBWW note that for a number of years its affiliate in Turkey YOL-IS has been actively campaigning for the rights of subcontract workers in the construction sector including the right to join trade unions and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.    Their campaign resulted in success when the union won a long-standing legal case to ensure permanent employment for 10,000 subcontract workers under the General Directorate of Highways.  It is within this frame, YOL IS is now working to find a solution.
“As we have done in the past, the BWI and EFBWW continue to support the efforts by YOL-IS which is currently working at all levels and engaging in dialogue with various stakeholders including the main contractor and government officials to resolve the labour crisis,” stated Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary.
He continued, “We believe that it is important to remain focused on addressing the complaints and concerns that workers have raised.   A substantive, long-term, and permanent solution must be put in place to ensure that subcontract workers working at the Istanbul New Airport and throughout Turkey have decent work, living wage, and are guaranteed fundamental labour and human rights.  An important part of the solution at the Istanbul New Airport project is to immediately release all workers who have been arrested.”

Read the statement by YOL-IS here.