Turkish construction workers at Fortina site on strike

Construction workers still insisting they have not been paid all wages and are now on strike

Turkish workers employed by TACA at the Fortina construction site. Photo: James Bianchi
Turkish workers employed by TACA at the Fortina construction site. Photo: James Bianchi

A group of Turkish construction workers recruited by an international construction company to work on the Fortina project, are striking out near the Fortina construction site.

The workers are insisting they have received no payment for their services for the past months.

The group of around 80 are employed by TACA Construction, a Turkish company which brought them over to Malta in November last year to work on the project in Sliema.

They have however been subcontracted by Turkish company Nivas Construction.

Fortina is currently in talks with Taca in attempt to resolve the issue, MaltaToday is informed.

One worker in contact with MaltaToday insisted that the group has not been paid for any of their work for the past five months. Despite complaining to their TACA supervisors, the workers said that the situation has persisted. “They say they have no money. They are not interested in us,” they said.

Fortina Investments has insisted that all financial obligations to TACA had been honoured, and said that it was the Turkish company that had allegedly not paid its workers the wages due to them. “Fortina to date has paid TACA Construction over and above the fees for the certified works on site, at times even paying suppliers directly on their behalf in order for progress to keep on moving onsite,” Fortina Investments director Edward Zammit Tabona said in a previous statement.

“Fortina has made it clear with TACA that no form of compromise is acceptable with worker's rights, and that alleged issues should be resolved forthwith,” Zammit Tabona said.

The Department of Industrial and Employment Relations said it was investigating the matter.

Tanju Baskurt, the owner of the company subcontracted by Taca Construction to do the civil works in the Fortina project, insisted that Taca had provided all workers “very decent accommodation and three times a day food which 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.”

Deha Turkel, a director of Taca Construction, told MaltaToday the workers were the responsibility of the subcontractor. “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.”

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