Workers constructing Istanbul's third bridge walk off job over bonus crisis
ISTANBUL – Doğan News AgencyBonuses promised to workers involved in the construction of the third bridge over Istanbul’s Bosphorus by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have caused a crisis, as workers claim the promises weren’t kept, Doğan News Agency reported on April 19.
The contractor company’s executive board chairman, İbrahim Çeçen, had promised Erdoğan to give the workers 3,000 Turkish Liras as bonuses and organize weddings for anyone who wanted to get married during a ceremony to celebrate the installation of the bridge’s last road section installed, named the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge in honor of an Ottoman sultan, on March 6.
“None of the promises that were given were kept. Our friends who were fired were treated like dogs. On top of that, they called the guards to kick them out. As if we are collecting charity here. We want our rights that were promised to us,” said Hacı Beldağlı, one of the workers that went to the entrance of the worksite to protest. According to the workers, 700 employees have been fired with two months remaining until the construction is finished.
To protest, some 150 workers went to the entrance of the bridge’s worksite and stopped the work at 7 a.m. on April 19.
Tension was high on the scene and the gendarmerie took security measures in the area. Water cannons were dispatched to the scene, while the representatives of the workers went to the construction’s site management office.
“I was one of the people that talked to the president in person when he came to the opening of the bridge. ‘Let’s name this. 3,000 Turkish liras for everyone,’ the president told the contractor company,” Beldağlı added.
Adding that the bonuses were promised to everyone including those who have been fired, the protesters told journalists that they would wait at the entrance of the bridge until the bonuses were paid.
“The work is almost done here. Almost 10 people are fired every day. One of the workers fired was my brother. He was fired yesterday, but he wasn’t given the bonus,” said another worker, whose name was kept anonymous.
“We can divide the [bonus of] 3,000 Turkish liras by 36, which is the total working hours. It equals 83 liras a month. We can pay in accordance with the months worked,” company officials allegedly told the striking workers.
Meanwhile, a written statement was released by the contractor company after the protests.
“The bonuses will be paid to the workers that took part in the project before Ramadan, as promised. The bonuses of the workers that left their jobs due to the completion of work, are being paid following official notifications,” the statement read.