Workers at Istanbul’s New Airport Protest Dangerous Conditions, Deaths
Turkish security forces on Friday fired tear gas at construction workers at Istanbul’s third airport who were protesting dangerous working conditions at the site as it prepares to open for business next month.
The new airport is one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitious new projects for the sprawling metropolis.
Located on the Black Sea, it will initially have capacity to handle around 90 million passengers per year, but that number is expected to rise to 150 million by 2023.
To publicize the project, Erdogan’s plane landed there in June just days before the presidential election.
Nevertheless, there have been reports of a large number of deaths at the construction site where some 35,000 people are working round-the-clock to finish it on time for the inauguration at the end of October.
Hundreds of workers have gone on strike to protest working conditions, the private DHA news agency reported.
Among the complaints stated by the protesters were bed bugs and fleas in their rooms, workers getting injured every day, poor food options, lack of hygiene in rooms and bathrooms, poor healthcare and unpaid wages.
A group of workers gathered at the site on Friday, but the security forces dispersed them using tear gas.
Multiple labor unions joined the demonstration, where Insaat-Is, one of the unions, tweeted along with a video that the protesters who shoot videos were threatened by the security forces with “punishment”:
Video çeken işçi arkadaşlarımıza ve üyelerimize “video çekimi yapanlar tek tek belirlenip cezalandırılacaktır” denilerek tehdit edildi. pic.twitter.com/CZylQRyisJ
— İnşaat-İş Sendikası (@insaatsendika) September 14, 2018
The workers stated a number of demands from their employer, including the improvement of accommodation and working conditions, and participants of the protest not to be laid off.
Following the protest, the company’s executives reportedly met with the representatives of the workers. While a group of workers told the media that their demands are going to be met by the company, Insaat-Is announced on Twitter that the report was not accurate and the protest would continue the next day.
In the meantime, a number of Twitter users suggested the name “Resistance” for the airport that has not been officially named yet, in reference to Friday’s protest.
There was no immediate reaction from a government official.