The Slovenia Times

Turkish workers building Koper-Divača track secure better pay

Workers building the Koper-Divača rail track call off strike after employers agree to their demands. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Turkish workers building a new railway between the port town of Koper and the Divača junction have secured better pay and working conditions after getting unionised and threatening to go on strike.

The strike, planned for 15 February, was cancelled on the eve of the industrial action after four Slovenian subsidiaries of Turkish construction companies agreed to virtually all demands of their employees.

According to the ZSSS confederation of trade unions, the agreement entails a 15-18% pay rise, an allowance for transport to remote construction sites, and one-off performance bonus of €150 net to be paid in March.

All overtime hours put in so far will be reviewed to see if they were properly recorded and paid. Any potential irregularities uncovered are to be tackled immediately.

The allowance for transport to remote construction sites will be paid in April for the past years, and then with every monthly salary.

Improvements in health, safety and housing conditions will be addressed as part of regular dialogue between the trade unions and employers.

A set of rules on performance bonuses will be also adopted as part of social dialogue.

Action taken amid reports of worker rights violations

More than 500 people work for the subsidiaries Yapi Merkezi, YM Construction, Yorpol and Türkcan.

Their in-house unions announced the strike a week ago, demanding payment of overtime since the start of construction work, and a 30% pay rise from 1 February.

The unions were formed about two months ago and are part of the Slovenian Construction Workers' Trade Union, which is part of the ZSSS.

An NGO helping immigrant workers has for months been drawing attention to violations of the rights of the Turkish workers, which have also been identified by labour inspectors.

The NGO has said the workers do much more overtime than allowed, while their employers fail to pay social contributions and properly report accidents at work.

Last autumn, it announced criminal charges against Yapi Merkezi and its subcontractor Türkcan, after which Yapi Merkezi terminated the contract with Türkcan.

The 27km rail track is being built by the Slovenian company Kolektor CPG and its Turkish partners Yapi Merkezi and Özaltin and their subcontractors.

Slovenia started building its biggest rail infrastructure project in 2021. The track is slated for completion at the end of 2025 and is to open to traffic the next year.

2TDK, the state-owned company in charge of the investment, welcomed the cancellation of the strike. "We are happy the talks were successful and that a joint solution was found through dialogue."

The company said it was regularly paying its bills and expected the employment relationships between the workers and employers to be in line with Slovenian law.


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