Seasonal workers: ‘These are imposed on us is inhuman’

  • 10:54 15 September 2021
  • News
Gülistan Azak 
DERSİM - Seasonal agricultural workers, who experience many problems, especially racist attacks, in the cities they go are forced to work under adverse conditions. Meryem Barut, one of the seasonal agricultural workers who had to come to Dersim from Urfa with her children, said: ‘’All we want is to bring a piece of bread, even if it is dry, to our house. They put a damper on us. These are imposed on us is inhuman.’’
In addition to the growing economic crisis in Turkey, the deepening of women’s poverty is also one of the important problems. Agriculture is one of the sectors where the problem is most seen. Despite being an agricultural city, thousands of people are forced to work insecurely away from their hometowns and take to the roads as seasonal workers every year because there is no crop field. The workers, who faced with many problems, especially racist attacks, in the cities they go to, are forced to work in the summer heat, in small tents, in very difficult and problematic, unhygienic conditions despite the epidemic.
Seasonal agricultural workers who come to Peri (Akpazar) town of Mazgirt district of Dersim, which is kilometers away from Urfa, to work in the sunflower field, experience the same problems.
‘We are left to die’
Rahime Öztürkmen (24-year-old), one of the tens of agricultural workers who migrated, stated that the needs such as water, electricity, toilet and bathroom were not provided in the tents they stayed in, and described the situation as ‘’torture’’. Rahime expressed the difficulties they experienced with these words: ‘’Everywhere we go, we are left to die. That we are going through is completely torture. Imagine that there is no water, electricity, toilet or bathroom where you live. We carry water from far away in buckets. We are 40 people in total including children. We are ashamed to say, but those who have given us these difficulties are not ashamed. I cannot even find a word to say about the lack of toilet and bathroom. It has been discussed many times to fix this problem. Unfortunately, the ear is closed. After our insistence, a hut was built in the middle of the area we were in for the bathroom, 
surrounded by nylon. The hut has no door. When the light is turned on, the interior of the bathroom is directly visible. That is why we cannot even have a bath. They don't even consider us human. It is terrible and shameful.’’
‘There is not a single moment when women are not working’
Saying that she has been working as a seasonal agricultural worker since her childhood, Rahime drew attention to the difficulty of working as a female worker. Rahime stated that although they work more than male workers, they receive less daily wages and said: ‘’Most of the seasonal agricultural workers are women. Because mostly women struggle for bread. We women work harder than men. In addition to doing the same job as them, works such as home and cooking and child care are also on our shoulders. While the men can come to the tent and rest after completing their shifts, we work until late at night. But we can only sleep for an hour or two. In the morning, we wake up before the men and prepare breakfast. Sometimes we get sick, but we hesitate to even express it. When we voice it, we are still forced to work. There is not a single moment when women are not working. That’s why we are so wearing out.’’
‘If we do not work, we will starve to death’
Referring to the difficulty of livelihood, Rahime said: ‘’Unfortunately, the money we receive is worthless in the face of increasing rises. The work of only one person is not enough for the house living. If we don't work, we will starve to death. We work with my spouse, but the money we receive does not meet the needs of our house and us. After all, we are traveling from city to city. When our travel expenses are added, we are completely broke. Our hands and feet are cracked from working. We are having trouble walking now. However, the money we receive does not cover the effort we put in. We don't even have insurance. Our livelihood is getting harder day by day. I don't know how or how long we can work like this. I cannot see my future. I feel very sad for not being able to provide a good future for my family and my children.’’
‘These are imposed on us is inhuman’
Stating that they had to go to other cities after staying in the cities they went for a month, Meryem Barut (27-year-old) said: ‘’A working season in one place lasts an average of several months. When the working season is over there, we move to another place. We spend half of our wages on the roads and our needs. The work we do is not worth the money left in our pocket, but we have to. Our work in Dersim will be finished in a few days. Then we will go to Sivas. The bad working conditions we are exposed to in the places we come from wear us out. We are not seen as human. None of our basic needs are met. Not a single human being comes and asks about our condition. We become miserable here with the children. Our life is worse than death. All we want is to bring home a piece of bread, even if it is dry. They put a damper on us. These are imposed on us is inhuman. I am ashamed for those who made us experience this. It is a shame.’’