Fortina gives Turkish construction firm ultimatum after builders’ strike

Fortina Contracting says it is TACA’s responsibility to adhere to local laws after workers engaged on its Sliema site claimed unpaid wages

Builders engaged by Turkish firm TACA to work on the Fortina site claimed they were not paid their wages for months (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Builders engaged by Turkish firm TACA to work on the Fortina site claimed they were not paid their wages for months (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Fortina Contracting has given Turkish construction firm TACA an ultimatum until Friday to stick to its legal obligations and ensure compliance with Maltese laws.

The issue concerns a builders’ strike on Tuesday, which saw Turkish workers assigned to the Fortina development site in Sliema lay down their tools.

The workers claimed that they were not paid their wages for five months. Works on the Fortina project were entrusted to the Turkish firm, which subsequently contracted a sub-contractor.

READ ALSO: TACA construction workers claim they have not been paid in months

Fortina Contracting said on Wednesday that it has paid TACA all dues and in some instances even when the architect still has to finalise certification.

Fortina is claiming that to facilitate works it has also paid suppliers, landlords and numerous other third parties claiming payment from TACA.

“Whether TACA engaged a sub-contractor or not, TACA remains ultimately responsible to ensure full compliance with local laws and regulations. If its sub-contractor is not complying as they are saying, at least in our regard, it still remains an issue of TACA… TACA has been solicited to ensure compliance with its legal obligations in this regards not later than this Friday,” Fortina said in a statement disseminated by its legal representatives.

The issue of unpaid wages is being investigated by the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations.

But Taca board Deha Türkel told MaltaToday all allegations should be addressed to the company subcontractor in Malta.

“I would like to express our concerns that these allegations should be directed to our subcontractor whereas we have paid the subcontractor in full as per our contract. In any case, we are addressing this issue carefully and outmost importance to resolve it in the shortest time possible... As per Fortina’s statement, we duly reject the claims that they have paid us in full; let alone the statement of overpaying us. The dispute on the project has required us to take a drastic measures on project. Therefore we have agreed with the client to hire an internationally acclaimed third-party consultant to make an independent assessment and to await for the outcome.”

The owner of the subcontract company, Tanju Baskurt, said workers had worked for the last seven months at Fortina site and that Taca had provided all workers “very decent accommodation and three times a day food specially prepared for the Turkish worker’s taste.”

“I have paid all the salaries to my workers up until the last month. We have all the bank documentation proving that we have paid them. And Taca fulfilled its obligation to us as per our contract. As per the contract with our workers, we keep one month’s salary to be paid at the end of the project. Once the dispute between Taca construction and Fortina resolves, they will start working again.”