The drama of seasonal workers, Turkey’s bleeding wound, continues. Seasonal workers who go to work in many parts of Turkey are subjected to racist attacks wherever they go.
A drama that starts in the spring and lasts until October. They are tossed from place to place according to the harvest status of the fruit and vegetable. They travel to cities they don’t know at all in their truck beds. They are deprived of all their vital rights, food. They are exposed to labor exploitation with cheap labor.
Although official figures are announced as 600 thousand in Turkey, there are 3 million seasonal workers who are not registered. The Kurdish population makes up 95 percent of these workers. Especially Urfa, Antep, Van, Ağrı lead these provinces. Seasonal workers, who have no insurance and are employed without insurance, make a significant contribution to agriculture in the Central Anatolia region. Millions of seasonal workers, employed without insurance and with cheap labor, are subjected to racist attacks wherever they go, despite their agricultural contributions. Kurdish workers, who are frequently attacked, especially in provinces like Sakarya, have no personal rights.
‘The problems of seasonal workers are ignored’
Agricultural Writer Asrın Keleş, who is currently working on the “Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Living Conditions Evaluation Report” and frequently brings up the situation of seasonal workers with his articles, stated that the problems of seasonal agricultural workers have been ignored for years. Keleş stated that seasonal agricultural workers who came to the Central Anatolia region in April stayed in tents in the fields in the outer districts until October-November, and despite all the difficulties, they made a significant contribution to agricultural production. Keleş said, “We are currently preparing the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Living Conditions Evaluation Report. We discuss the deficiencies, problems and solution proposals experienced in the tents together with the workers. Seasonal agricultural workers, who are the subject of the work, insist on changing conditions and obtaining legal rights.”
‘They should live in containers, not tents’
Keleş stated that workers should be put in container houses instead of tents where they live, and that providing humane living conditions is their basic human right, adding, “Both trade unions and non-governmental organizations, as political parties, are insufficient to draw attention to the issue. We will continue to strive for the prevention of child labor so that our people can live in healthier and more humane conditions.”
‘Seasonal workers can’t even find clean water’
Saying that it is unacceptable to force seasonal workers to live in bad conditions, Keleş said: “These people’s access to clean water should be provided as soon as possible. The camps where seasonal agricultural workers live are far from providing humane living conditions. People are trying to live on a land that turns into a lake every time it rains. Trash and tents are intertwined. The makeshift toilets are not suitable for health, thus revealing the health problem. The local and central government should make an effort to ensure that the citizens who have to live in these tents live in better conditions. Access to primary health care services, particularly immunization, family planning and health education, is difficult and limited for those living in these camps; I can say very clearly that health institutions do not visit the tents. Likewise, the education of school-age children is not taken into account.”
Translator :Akif Coşkun