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Turkey: Tekel Workers’ Protest

Documentary photo story posted on 4 March 2010 by Emre Kuheylan

Hunger strike area. Black ribbons stands for indefinite hunger strike.

Hunger strike area. Black ribbons stand for indefinite hunger strike.

The most persistent and determined protest in Turkey for a decade: “Tekel” was the government-owned tobacco and alcoholic beverages company for many years, but when the tobacco branch of Tekel was sold to British American Tobacco in 2008 as part of privatization plans, Tekel workers lost their job status.

The government is now forcing them to sign a 4/C status, which means they will get only 1/3 of their current wage (around 300 Euros per month), getting paid only 10-11 months of a year, no extra working hour fees, no social benefit payments and don’t have any compensation or union rights.

Because of this situation thousands of Tekel workers started a protest at the downtown Ankara. Today is the 60th day of it (12th of Feb.2010). They are living in nylon made tents in bad winter conditions. Most of the days It’s below zero degree in Ankara (capital city of Turkey). People from all across Turkey are helping them with providing foods, blankets, medical supplies etc. Also volunteer doctors provide healthcare to the ones who get sick in these conditions.


5th of February around 140 workers started indefinite hunger strike and today (12th) 16 people left on hunger strike. Others had to stop because of health problems. Workers determine to fight till they get their rights back and considering death hunger strike as next step if government doesn’t change its decision.

Also Prime Minister said if workers don’t end protest till end of February, they will use police forces to stop.

special resting area for the ones whose conditions become worse during hunger

Special resting area for the ones whose conditions become worse during hunger

pharmacy section of hunger strike area. Volunteer doctors provide healthcare with medicines which donated by other people.

Pharmacy section of hunger strike area. Volunteer doctors provide healthcare with medicines which donated by other people.

Paper says: I'm donating my organs if I die. But do not give them to the prime minister, otherwise he would sell those too.





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  1. Wonderful photos, very moving. Very good to see such rock solid working class solidarity in the face of such a horrible Islamo-capitalist regime.

  2. a different side of turkey, which haven’t seen before, very nice photos.. tells the story in details,

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