2020.01.06 15:03

Turkish embassy gets involved in unpaid wages dispute in Kaunas


The Turkish embassy is speaking with all sides in the labour dispute over unpaid wages in Lithuania's second largest city Kaunas, a representative told BNS.

The Turkish workers building a stadium in Kaunas started their industrial action over unpaid wages in late December, which included a days-long hunger strike outside the Kaunas Municipality.

"We are talking with the workers, their representatives, we're also talking with the board of directors of the construction company and we believe there will be a solution very soon," Umit Atesagaoglu, a commercial counselor at the Turkish Embassy, told BNS after meeting with the workers and company representatives.

A solution is expected early this week, he said.

Read more: Turkish construction workers go on hunger strike over unpaid wages in Kaunas

"The company wants to pay and wants to finish the construction because it doesn't have any problem with the Kaunas municipality or Lithuanian government. Everything is working fine. They just need to organize their funds and they will do the payments," Atesagaoglu said.

The protesting workers are also interested in a peaceful resolution of the matter, he added.

"I've just spoken with some representatives of the workers and they are also trying to solve the situation because nobody wants to stay in that kind of situation," the embassy representative said.

The May 1 Trade Union, which backs the workers, says 53 employees are currently on strike. The construction company owes each of its workers between 7,000 and 12,000 euros, according to the trade union.

Kayi Construction representatives say the pay is delayed under the labour contracts signed in Turkey. Meanwhile, the workers are paid on time under the Lithuanian contracts, therefore, the issue should be resolved in Turkey, according to the company lawyer.

"We are trying to control the situation in order not to affect the [construction] progress," Alper Dedeoglu, a deputy project manager from Kayi Construction, said in a comment sent to BNS. "The company is [working to the] maximum in order to compensate the possible time loss because of this strike," he said, adding that there haven't been any delays yet.

Dedeoglu confirmed that the 52 striking workers are Turkish. Subcontractors are also working at the construction cite. "The head of the company has already proposed a solution to the workers," he added.

Read more: Striking Turkish workers should take up wages issue in Turkey, company lawyer says

The trade union supporting the Turkish workers says there are also violations in Lithuania as well as the Turks work overtime, have no copies of their contracts and are not properly insured.

The Lithuanian State Labour Inspectorate also launched an investigation into the Turkish company's Lithuanian branch on January 4.

Kaunas Municipality signed the contract with the Turkish construction company for the reconstruction of the Darius and Girėnas Stadium in June 2018.

The Kaunas authorities say the protests might delay the construction work, therefore, it will consider issuing fines to the company.