Turkey: Unions brace for COVID-19

25 March 2020 10:04

BWI affiliates in Turkey reported that the country has started to take preventive measures against the COVID-19 outbreak this month. They said that the government has started imposing restrictions on incoming travelers and closed schools, bars and night clubs and suspended all national and international events. However, the country is not yet on a total lockdown as public transport is still operating and public institutions, shopping malls and banks are still open. Workplaces are also continuing production. 

Photo: Reuters

While trade unions have already closed their offices, board members and workplace representatives continue to travel around the country and monitor the working conditions of different organised workplaces. As of today, they reported that no major layoffs and outbreak of the disease among workers have occurred. 

Meanwhile, CIMSE-IS negotiated for an increase in the number of shuttles and lunch breaks available to workers in order to maintain social distancing. Additionally, disinfection stations are built to make sure that workers have access to disinfection materials and free from contamination. 

TARIM ORMAN-IS submitted a list of measures to the General Directorate of Forestry on how to respond to the pandemic, which includes disinfecting all workplaces and vehicles and stopping production and all forestry work, excluding emergency work. However, the union reported that production continues at full capacity in an attempt to meet the raw material demands of multinationals without improving working conditions amid a serious health crisis. 

The unions said that the government announced a  100 billion Turkish liras COVID-19  spending package (about $15.4 billion). However, this was heavily criticized by workers and the general public who see the package as insufficient in supporting workers and focused only in protecting big companies.