Hundreds of protesting workers at new Istanbul airport detained

Hundreds of protesting workers at new Istanbul airport detained
About 500 workers at Istanbul's third airport were arrested for protesting poor labour conditions, including the deaths of workers.
2 min read
15 September, 2018
A general view of Istanbul's third airport, which is under construction [Getty]
Turkish authorities arrested hundreds of workers on the construction site of Istanbul's third airport, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's mega development projects, after they protested work-related deaths and poor working conditions.

"500 workers at the third airport have been arrested", Turkey's revolutionary unions confederation (Disk) tweeted.

Security forces on Friday dispersed a demonstration by hundreds of workers outside the new airport, which was due to be completed in October, the private DHA news agency reported.

The opposition daily Cumhuriyet quoted live-in workers complaining about fleas and bed bugs at the site.

The airport construction and operating company, Istanbul Grand Airport, issued a statement saying management had met the workers and pledged to take measures to resolve the issues quickly.

The hashtag supporting the workers, "we are not slaves" (#köledegiliz) was trending strongly on social media in Turkey on Saturday.

When the first plane landed at IGA in June, Erdogan said the new airport will be the biggest in the world with a first phase capacity of 90 million passengers a year going up to 150 million in 2023.

Some 35,000 people are employed on the project, including 3,000 engineers and administrative staff.

Twenty-seven works have died at the construction site - 13 in work-related accidents, the transport minister said during a press visit to the airport last April.

However, several workers, asking not to be named, told AFP on Saturday the ministry figures were far too low and accidents were very common at the site.

Turkey has arrested more than 77,000 people since the failed 2016 coup attempt under emergency laws passed two years ago. 

Rights groups have criticised the scale of the purge, which has also seen 140,000 people suspended or sacked from public sector jobs. 

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