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Strike for the right to life on May 1, Turkish unions urged

TURKISH trade unions have been urged to co-ordinate strike action on May 1 to demand the right to life and paid leave after the government allowed workers to be furloughed for three months without wages.

Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Figen Yuksekdag’s Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) insisted that strikes have never been more necessary as thousands face poverty and starvation thanks to the government’s emergency measures agreed last week.

While layoffs are banned for three months under the plans, workers can be sent home on unpaid leave and are only able to access benefits of 1,117 lira (£130) per month or a payment of 39 lira (£4.50) per day.

Health union TTB warned today that health professionals working in private hospitals were among those being forced to take unpaid leave.

The union’s executive demanded that the government reverse the decision and redeploy clinical staff into public hospitals.

HDP MP for Istanbul Musa Piroglu warned that the government is enforcing “misery and death” for workers while protecting the bosses.

ESP co-chair Sahin Tumuklu said that the emergency legislation would lead workers to starvation and that unions have no choice but to respond through strike action.

“If this strike does not take place, the workers have no chance of gaining the right to life or the right to paid leave,” he said.

Mass gatherings that would usually mark International Workers’ Day are banned around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year the focus must be on strike action to protect the lives of all workers in Turkey, Mr Tumulku insisted.

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