Turkish appliance giant stops workers going to hospital for COVID-19 - report

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) accused the Turkish appliance giant Vestel of failing to protect its workers in the western province of Manisa from COVID-19.

Vestel prevented workers who had reported having COVID-19 symptoms for a week from going to hospital, Sol news cited the TTB as saying in a report on Wednesday. 

The authorities at the Vestel factory in Manisa’s Organized Industrial Zone also failed to implement necessary social distancing measures and provide sufficient protective equipment, according to the report.

“We detected that while workers had to get on the shuttle buses by 15-minute intervals before June 1, Vestel management has now removed this application. Therefore, there is overcrowding in the shuttles,” the TTB said.

“Workers in Vestel factory are given two cloth masks a month, but they are insufficient to protect workers from the COVID-19 because the masks have no nose wire.”

The TTB said that many employees work for 12 hours a day at the factory.

“Reducing the shifts to six hours from 12 hours, decreasing the number of workers working on the same shifts and preventing the overcrowding in the shuttle buses is critical to get the spread of coronavirus under control,” the TTB said in its report.

Sol said that the number of COVID-19 cases has been on the rise in the Vestel factory in Manisa since the beginning of the Turkish government’s normalisation period introduced on June 1. Sol said at least seven workers at the factory had reportedly died from the coronavirus and dozens have tested positive.

Vestel workers told Sol news in early August that the real number of deaths and infections is much higher and the factory management is forcing employees to work 12 hours per day to compensate for labour shortages due to the quarantine period.

‘‘If not coronavirus, the greed of the bosses will kill us. The number of the cases gradually increases and we do not want to share the same fate as our fellow workers dying young,’’ Sol cited one worker as saying.

The Manisa Chamber of Medicine said that there had been at least 1,000 positive cases in the Vestel factory, Sol reported.

Vestel, one of Turkey’s biggest producers and exporters of home appliances, restarted manufacturing in early April after halting production lines for a week due to the coronavirus.