Campaign seeks to improve work conditions for Turkish and Kurdish people

Hackney Unite parking wardens. Picture: Unite the union

Unite has launched successful campaigns in Hackney and all over the UK including helping to get Hackney Council parking wardens "back in-house". - Credit: Unite the union

A new campaign has been launched to tackle employment abuses suffered by Turkish and Kurdish communities in Hackney, Islington and two other London boroughs. 

Trade union Unite has joined forces with Stoke Newington community organisation Day-Mer with the aim of eradicating pay and employment problems within Turkish and Kurdish communities during the pandemic.

Unite said workplace problems include abuses of the furlough scheme, failure to pay the London Living Wage currently set at £10.85 an hour and employers failing to give contractual sick pay, meaning their staff must rely on statutory sick pay (SSP) at £95.85 a week if required to self-isolate. 

Day-Mer chair Asli Gul said: “Workers have suffered significantly throughout the pandemic, often working in unsafe conditions - exposed to the virus with little or no access to paid leave when forced to self-isolate.

"This has meant that workers in our communities, in our shops, restaurants and warehouses have had no choice but to continue working or face losing their jobs or homes, and, in some cases, both.

“Many also lost their jobs or employers refused to furlough them, leading to many families being left unable to buy food and pay the rent.

"This must end.” 

The campaign will focus on workplaces in Islington, Hackney, Haringey and Enfield.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab. - Credit: Unite the Union

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Unite regional officer Onay Kasab told the Gazette that "very few" of the employers the campaign plans to target are paying any contractual sick pay

He said: "This campaign aims to ensure that workers are aware of their statutory rights, but it will also be involved in campaigning to improve pay, conditions and safety at work."

Hackney employment chief Cllr Carole Williams says the council's administration has long been a supporter of trade unions.

The councillor added: "I welcome this campaign. It is vital that we support the Turkish and Kurdish community in Hackney."

Cllr Williams also encouraged people to get involved with Heart Unions Week (February 8-14) and join a union to ensure their "voices are heard". 

Day-Mer is a non-profit making organisation supporting Turkish- and Kurdish-speaking migrants.

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Learn more about #HeartUnions Week at