110 workers of a cigarette factory in Samsun (Black Sea coast) were made redundant on 31 March in the course of the privatization of the business. The factory was recently sold to the British American Tobacco Company. The workers started a protest action when they were laid off. On Tuesday (12 April), after twelve days of protest, the police intervened against the demonstrating workers with tear gas and water cannons.
Reason for lay-offs: “Shrinking market share”
The Ballıcı Cigarette factory in Samsun was part of the TEKEL company, the former monopoly holder for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Upon the privatization of the factory, it was turned over to British American Tobacco (BAT) with the result of 110 lay-offs on 31 March. The workers protested against the decision and closed the factory.
The decision was announced to the workers by Tuna Turagay, Corporate Affairs Director and member of the steering board. The “shrinking market, high taxes and a decrease of tobacco consumption due to the cigarette ban [in public buildings]” were given as reasons for the lay-offs.
Two workers in police custody
For twelve days, the workers protested on the factory premises. Workers and their families put up tents in the factory yard. On 12 April, the factory management called them to end their protest.
When the workers refused to leave the factory, BAT called the riot forces.
The workers put up barricades to prevent the police from entering the factory yard. Thereupon, the police intervened with tear gas and water cannons against the workers.
After that, the workers retreated to the canteen and locked the doors. The police broke the windows of the canteen and went inside. Two workers were taken into police custody. One worker with diabetes got faint during the police intervention and had to be taken to hospital. (EKN/VK)