Turkish government supports exploitation of seasonal workers

The Secretary General of the agricultural and forestry workers' union Tarım Orkam-Sen, sharply criticizes the AKP regime. The government is on the side of the capital and against any organization of the workers in the question of seasonal work, he says.

The situation of the seasonal workers and their families in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey, i.e. some 20 million people, is precarious. The Secretary General of the agricultural and forestry workers' union Tarım Orkam-Sen, Hamit Kurt, accuses the government of blocking any improvement of the situation.

Due to the economic crisis, the situation for workers in agriculture has worsened once again, says Kurt and continues: "Today there is no legal basis for seasonal workers in agriculture in Turkey. As to the reason why no act is introduced on this matter, we are constantly reminded of the existing 'labor law'. The government claims that therefore no further law is needed. Law 4857 does include seasonal workers, but they only appear in one section. It is rather a law that affects the tourism sector. We have a draft law and we insist on a law for seasonal workers and their families.”

"The government chooses the path of exploitation"

This bill will lay the foundation for health care, housing, transport and organization for those working in agriculture. However, no government has so far wanted such a law. According to Kurt, this is due to a "capital faction" in this sector, which profits massively from exploitation. "The government does not want to turn this fraction against itself. It prefers exploitation. If a legal basis were created, the workers could organize themselves into trade unions, form associations and make their demands.”

"They don't want an organization"

According to the Turkish statistics authority there are 4.5 million seasonal workers in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. If one includes however their families in the calculation, then the number lies with 20 million. Kurt says that the government does not want these people to organize themselves and defend their rights. "In the past, seasonal workers have formed associations. We have seen the way these associations have been attacked. These people are systematically neglected for the interests of capital.”

"No accidents at work, but murder"

Regarding the frequent deaths in connection with seasonal work, Kurt says: "There is constantly news that trucks carrying them are involved in accidents during transport, and just now it was reported that ten more agricultural workers have died. These are not accidents, but murders. 27 agricultural workers have died. In the last seven months 1098 workers have died. 154 died in June, seven of them children. Every morning an average of seven new corpses come to the mortuary. Most of those murdered by the working conditions are seasonal workers. We are talking about human lives."

Hamit Kurt concludes with the words: "Anyone who calls himself human must object to this. We will not give up this resistance, we will raise these problems as a trade union and continue our fight for a legal basis".