Çerkezoğlu: Lives of workers are more valuable than refrigerators

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  • 16:33 11 August 2020
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İSTANBUL - Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey has protested coronavirus deaths in Vestel factory: “The mentality of employers and government who think ‘We will produce in all conditions’ puts workers' right to life and health at risk.”

Shortly after it is reported in the news that workers are employed in Vestel factory in conditions disregarding their right to life and health and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly spreading among them as a result, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has staged a protest in front of Zorlu Holding building in İstanbul.
Addressing the crowd there, DİSK Secretary General Adnan Serdaroğlu has indicated that the number of COVID-19 cases has been on the increase in both Manisa organized industrial zone and Vestel factory.
He has underlined that even though some workers lost their lives due to the virus, the production continues in the factory.
"Health Minister should stop giving advices and look at Dardanel and Vestel, instead," Serdaroğlu has said, adding that "Vestel does not value its workers as much as it values its machines."
Taking the floor after Secretary General, DİSK Chair Arzu Çerkezoğlu has said, "The capital's greed for making profit and absence of rules cause the COVID-19 outbreak to spread from workplaces to the whole country."
Underlining that "bosses hold money in higher esteem than human life and public health," Çerezoğlu has noted that "they are still making people work without taking the necessary measures despite the pandemic."
"Greed for profit leads to an aggravation of conditions," she has said and briefly continued as follows:
"We hear that the workers who keep working in factories without necessary health and safety measures catch the disease and even lose their lives.
"The news coming from Manisa are concerning. It is known that COVID-19 has been spreading among the workers in workplaces operating in the Manisa Organized Industrial Zone, especially in the Vestel City factory.
"According to the Manisa Medical Chamber, there are approximately 1,000 positive cases in the factory. However, in spite of this, production unmercifully continues and the number of deaths is increasing."
Çerkezoğlu has also shared the following complaints reported to the DİSK by the workers of Vestel factory in Manisa:
Workers work on the production line side by side. In these conditions, the outbreak is rapidly increasing in the factory.
If a worker does not show the symptoms of the disease when s/he gets infected, the workers whom s/he was in contact with are not tested, these workers are not quarantined. When one of the workers working side by side with others on the lines gets sick, a new worker replaces him/her and continues working.
Let alone decreasing or stopping production by prioritizing human life, production is being increased more and more. That being the case, the number of workers and shifts as well as the risk posed by the disease keep on increasing as well.
Using the outbreak as an opportunity rather than taking measures against it, the employer does not allow workers to take a break, thereby making up a virus that is not caught while working side by side, but is caught while taking a rest side by side.
In the face of such an outbreak, masks alone are naturally not enough; however, workers have emphasized that their masks and even their provisions are not enough.
Noting that, instead of taking measures, companies are running PR campaigns on social media and spend money on ads rather than on measures, Çerkezoğlu has emphasized that what is witnessed in Vestel is a "continuation of the government's policy of 'Wheels will turn no matter what'."
"The rulers of the country are indifferent to the outbreak spreading in Dardanel, Vestel and in factories and workplaces all around Turkey," Çerkezoğlu has protested further, adding that "they have also preferred increasing their profits at the expense of human life, just like the capital."
Concluding her remarks, DİSK Chair Çerkezoğlu has called on the government and the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services to take responsibility to protect the health of workers and the public.
"We, as the DİSK, are calling out once again from here: The life of workers is more valuable than refrigerators," Çerkezoğlu has said, adding that "the mentality of the employers and the government who say 'We produce in all conditions' put workers' right to life and health at risk."
Accordingly, she has called on the authorities and the related parties to immediately suspend production in workplaces where COVID-19 cases are diagnosed, especially in Vestel factory. She has also requested that all workers be tested and given a paid leave for at least 15 days.

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