The protest of TEKEL workers against the government’s sudden and arbitrary decision to shut down their workplaces continues into its 7th week despite cold and rainy weather conditions, lack of proper shelter and the threat of police violence.
Following a three-day sit-down strike, some 100 protesters began a hunger strike on Tuesday, 19 January, and are determined to continue as long as it takes to get the government to accede to their demands. They are asking that they be given alternative employment with their full employment benefits, as the law provides, rather than the casual contracts at lower pay now on offer.
The three-day sit-in resulted in 1,500 workers falling ill and 45 being taken to hospital. The Turkish Medical Association has pledged full support to the workers in case of medical emergencies stemming from lack of food and the harsh weather conditions. How long the workers can last is uncertain, as medical staff struggled to maintain the ailing workers’ health even before the hunger strike began.
The protesting workers and their trade union, IUF-affiliated TEKGIDA-IS are now calling for a general strike. They have gained wide support amongst other trade unions and the general public, who recognise this protest as fundamental in the struggle for workers and trade union rights in Turkey.
These workers are determined to carry on their protest until the government accedes to their demands. And they urgently need your support!