Call for Support for Workers of the Turkish company “Kayi Construction”

We are calling for international support for the workers of Turkish company “Kayi Construction” that was building stadium in Kaunas, Lithuania. For three weeks of January 2020 the workers have been on strike because the company has not paid wages for 9 months.  May 1st union is representing the workers in Lithuania and gathering financial support for the workers and their families in Turkey.  We ask you to contribute and share the information about the grave violations of workers rights by the turkish company.

In 2018, a Turkish construction company “Kayi Construction” won the public tender announced by Kaunas municipality to conduct the construction works of a football stadium. On March 2019, the company has started the construction and brought around 60 workers from Turkey. The workers signed double contracts with the Turkish “Kayi construction”, as well as with the Lithuanian subsidiary of the company.

In the middle of December 2019, the first protests of workers erupted – 5 workers announced to the media that they had not been paid their salaries and that the company owes each of them from 6 to 7 thousand euros. However, these workers soon got their salaries and were sent back to Turkey. Media then announced that the problems were solved and the construction carried on.

In 2017 “Kayi construction” received awards from Recep Tayyir Erdogan. The company is a major contractor from the Turkish state as well conducts projects in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Iraq and Russia.

On December 30th, the May 1st Labor Union, an independent Lithuanian labor union, received a call for assistance from other Turkish workers of the “Kayi Construction”. As it later turned out, the company has not been paying salaries for the other 52 workers. According to the workers, the company owes from 7 to 12 thousand euros to each worker. Apart from the salaries, there is strong evidence that the company violated  numerous other rights of the workers: the workers have not received a copy of their contracts, their monthly working hours exceeded more than double the maximum rate allowed by Lithuanian labor law – they were working from 12 to 14 hours every day, having only 1 day off in three weeks. Also, the manager of the company had taken the passports of the workers, and returned them back only when the protests started.

On 31st of December the workers announced a hunger strike that lasted for a week. Together with the May 1st union, the workers were demanding responsibility from the employer and Kaunas municipality, as the project was financed by the public funds. However, Kaunas municipality did not express support for the workers, but at least was forced to quit the contract with “Kayi construction” and announce a new tender. On January 11th a solidarity protest was organised that was attended by other Lithuanian labor unions. The unions came to express solidarity not only with striking workers in Kaunas, but as well with their colleagues in Algeria – here, “Kayi construction” has left 150 workers without wages. 

The strike and the protest attracted a lot of attention from Lithuanian media and politicians. On 13th the workers participated in a Parliamentary meeting where they explained the situation with the contractor.  However, the representatives of the Turkish company have made it clear that they will not pay the promised wages to the workers – offering only a meagre sum of 400 euros in exchange of the workers leaving Lithuania and bringing the matters to the Turkish courts.

As “Kayi construction” lost the contract with Kaunas municipality, the company started forcing the workers to leave the containers where they have been living as well as stopped providing food. On January 17th workers left Lithuania and came back to their families in Turkey.

May 1st union will continue fighting for the salaries in courts, but it can take up until 1 year until the final verdict.  At the moment the workers are in need of financial support as the company has only been paying its workers a monthly subsistence allowance of around 200 euros. The workers have shown fierce courage and dedication to fight for their rights and we want to show them, that they are not alone. We ask you to help us spread the information and help us gather the financial support.

You can transfer your donation to:

Bank: Luminor|DNB; 

SWIFT: AGBLLT2X 

Account number: LT304010051005202548 

Receiver: Gegužės 1-osios profesinė sąjunga (May 1st Labour Union)

Purpose: support for “Kayi construction” workers

As well, you can transfer the donation through PayPal: g1ps@g1ps.lt

 

On ensuring the human rights of transgender persons in Lithuania

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day we submitted a petition to the Parliament demanding the inclusion of ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Lithuanian Labour Code and the Law on Equal Opportunities.

Transgender people are one of the most marginalized groups in Lithuania, and often face discrimination in the labor market; however, discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or gender expression is not explicitly prohibited under Lithuanian legislation. 

Most problems arise from the fact that Lithuanian laws seem to refuse to acknowledge the existence of trans people and thus fail to ensure their human rights. Even though Lithuania has an obligation to implement the right to legally change one’s gender⁠—this right is also entrenched in the Civil Code⁠—up until now, this obligation has not been fulfilled and no law regulating legal gender recognition exists. In 2007, in the case of L v. Lithuania, the European Court of Human Rights held that by delaying the implementation of the rights of transgender people under the Civil Code, Lithuania violated the European Convention on Human Rights. Because of Lithuania’s continued failure to implement the Court’s decision, this case was put under enhanced supervision procedure in 2014. However, instead of ensuring the rights of transgender people, Lithuania to this day pays thousands in fines yearly.

Because of the inaccessibility of legal gender recognition, transgender people encounter various difficulties at work and when looking for employment. In order to change their documents to ones matching their gender identity, transgender persons must go to court and prove their gender identity by presenting a psychiatric diagnosis and other “proof”. It is a time- and money-consuming, emotionally draining process, inaccessible to many transgender people. However, without documents that match one’s gender identity, many transgender people find it difficult to find a job and keep it. It is also difficult to earn enough for anything more than survival, let alone all the financial expenses related to the transitioning process. This can turn into a cycle that is difficult to escape. Thus many trans people are forced to leave for countries where their human rights and dignity are better protected.

Legal gaps also impede the implementation of transgender people’s right to privacy and protection of personal data, which only increases the risk of discrimination. During the employment process, transgender people who have not had their gender marker and documents changed are forced to provide documents that do not reflect their gender identity, only their current legal state. In order to have their identity and gender expression respected, transgender people are often forced to reveal personal information, such as their medical records and transgender status. In the event that a transgender person’s employer or coworkers react negatively to their identity, this can create conditions for hate crime, harassment and discrimination.

Sign a petition demanding that Lithuanian State institutions fulfill their obligations and ensure the protection of the human rights of transgender people:

https://www.peticijos.lt/visos/75686/del-translyciu-asmenu-zmogaus-teisiu-uztikrinimo-lietuvoje/

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Translation of the petition text:

Transgender people are one of the most marginalized groups in Lithuania. 

Lack of legal regulation regarding gender identity, lack of gender reassignment procedures and other necessary health services and pathologization of the diagnosis of transsexualism exacerbate social isolation, damage transgender people’s dignity and mental health, and create opportunities for discrimination and hate crimes. Transgender people are especially vulnerable to discrimination in the labor market and in the spheres of healthcare and education.

Because of this, many trans people are forced to leave for countries where their human rights and dignity are better protected.

In this petition, we urge the Parliament and the Government to ensure the implementation of transgender human rights in Lithuania, to hold the responsible institutions accountable for carrying out their obligations, and guarantee transgender people their right to dignity as enshrined in the Constitution.

In accordance with fundamental human rights principles, Lithuania’s international obligations, and recommendations from international organizations, we demand the following:

  1. to include the prohibition of discrimination on the ground of gender identity in national legislation – Lithuanian Labor Code and the Law on Equal Opportunities;
  2. to fill existing legal gaps by adopting legislation regulating legal gender recognition and ensure the right entrenched in the Civil Code to legally change one’s gender and personal records;
  3. to adopt a directive for the provision of healthcare services to transgender people, ensuring safe and accessible medical gender reassignment and other healthcare services;
  4. to repeal legal provisions that prevent transgender people from working in certain jobs due to a psychiatric diagnosis of “transsexualism”;
  5. to revise current regulations and compose new legal acts in accordance with the latest revision to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, under which transgender identity is removed from the category of “mental and behavioural disorders” (that is, depathologized) and instead included in the category of “conditions related to sexual health.”

 

Petition initiator:

May 1st Labor Union

G1PS launches free legal advice for workers

Have you experienced any sort of violations of your worker’s rights from an employer? You have questions regarding labor law in Lithuania?

You can contact May 1st labor union for legal advice regarding labor law. The service is free of charge and we guarantee anonimity.

You can contact us by filling out the form or by contacting us via the email: konsultacijos@g1ps.lt and we will get back to you.

A face to face meeting can also be arranged in Vilnius or in Kaunas.