Workers’ quarters at deadly Istanbul tower site akin to ‘concentration camps’
Eyüp Serbest ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
The general secretary of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), Arzu Çerkezoğlu said she even saw huge rats at the workers' quarters in the construction site where 10 workers were killed after an elevator collapsed on Sept. 6.Workers laboring on the construction of a luxury residence in Mecidiyeköy where 10 colleagues were killed on Sept. 6 live in squalid and inhuman conditions, according to one of the country’s leading unionists.
The general secretary of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), Arzu Çerkezoğlu, said the 1,500 workers at the site were accommodated “just like in a concentration camp.”
“Some 1,500 workers live in the area designed as the parking of the residence complex worth millions of dollars, four floors underground in a place with a low ceiling that lacks ventilation, windows and light. I tell it as a healthcare specialist, it is not possible for humans to live in such place,” said Çerkezoğlu, adding that she saw huge rats in the quarters.
“The bathrooms and toilets are extremely unhygienic. It is not possible to take a bath and clean oneself. We saw with our own eyes huge rats there,” she said.
Çerkezoğlu also explained that the quarters’ were also used to store the mostly toxic construction equipment, while slamming the construction company’s owner, Aziz Torun, who dismissed claims that the working conditions at his site were not in line with regulations.
“I call on him to live for 24 hours in the same conditions with his workers, sleep in the same place, eat the same food, go to the toilet and take a bath there and he will see what the reality is,” she said.
The towers built in one of the most lucrative spots in Istanbul are no exception among the hundreds of construction sites across the city. On Sept. 8, construction workers of a new residential complex in an Istanbul suburb took to the roads to protest against their conditions, even showing reporters how their meals were filled with worms.
Although the government, which has quivered with excitement at the prospect at more and more construction across the country, has vowed to take action while declaring the victims “martyrs,” labor accidents have increased in recent years due to a lack of monitoring as well as connivance between businessmen and politicians.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş stressed on Sept. 8 that the closeness between some businessmen granted profitable construction projects and officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) undermined workers’ rights.
“These gentlemen are the sponsors of the AKP. They have a solid backing. So why would they spend money on workers’ safety?” Demirtaş said.