Thursday, February 07, 2008

Shipyards of shame

Tulza Shipyards on the waterfront of Istanbul Turkey is a busy place. Near the entrance to the Bosphorus, it receives most of its work doing repairs and maintenance on merchant ships.

It's also a dangerous place. In the past seven months 14 shipyard workers have been killed. In the past seven years 44 workers have died while building or repairing ships.

The ships built at Tulza carry the chemicals used in factories in North America, the additives for fuel, the wheat for export overseas and the 57 cent per pound bananas for your local supermarket. Shipyards in Tulza Bay also build mega-yachts.

They are built by virtual slaves.
The location is a ground floor of a four-story building in Tuzla, Istanbul. The building is covered with glass; however, there are tens of people stacked in an area encompassing 20 square meters. Some of them are sitting in the corner and thinking. Some of them are cooking in the other corner. They are chatting about poverty, hunger and money in the middle of the room. The people living in this poverty are the workers of Tuzla's naval shipyards, where some of the most expensive ships in the world are built. Fourteen workers have died in the past seven months and 44 have died over the last seven years in this naval shipyard. Not only are the working conditions poor, but also the living conditions are in squalor in the shipyard. The monthly rent for a 20-square-meter room is 700 YTL, equal to the rent of a 100-square-meter house in other parts of Istanbul. Therefore, tens of people have to live together in these 20-square meter-rooms to share the rent.
Just thought you should know about that.

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