Tuzla shipyard workers now face unemployment

Workers at the Tuzla shipyards, which have become infamous for frequent work-related accidents in recent months, now face the risk of unemployment as a result of the ongoing global financial turmoil. According to a news report from the Radikal daily, in the last month 1,000 workers have already been laid off at the Tuzla shipyards, where approximately 40,000 workers are employed, as a result of the global economic crisis. Although employers justify the layoffs by noting that many orders have been cancelled due to the crisis, labor unions think the crisis is just being used as an excuse.

Desan Shipyard Chairman Muhsin Divan told Radikal that both employers and employees are in trouble. “We had so many orders just one month ago that we used to have difficulty in finding contractors. Layoffs are all related to the cancellations of orders. Even Turkish ship owners cancel their orders, despite the fines they have to pay,” he said. Noting that the situation is mostly a result of the psychological effects of the crisis on the banks, he said if this situation becomes severe, half of the workers in the district will have been laid off by the end of 2009.

Harbor, Shipyard and Ship Construction and Repair Workers’ Union (Limter-RS) Secretary-General Kamber SaygTlT, however, said the shipyard employers are only trying to lower costs by doing more work with fewer workers. “It was reported that the shipyard industry had developed significantly and that all shipyards had orders through 2013. Shipyards should have not been affected by the crisis,” he argued.

Rhsan GüneS, who had been working for a contractor cooperating with a shipyard, was among those laid off. He said 140 of the 150 workers at his company were laid off. “They did not give us any explanation. They just said, ‘Don’t come to work tomorrow.’ I have two children, I don’t know what to do,” he added.