Elif Demirci / Izmir, July 7 () - Female workers in the agriculture sector have been more exploited than male workers, as the former have been paid less and deprived, in general, of the rights to health insurance and social security, Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (ZMO) İzmir department head Ferdan Çiftçi said on July 7.
Female agriculture workers have been preferred as cheap labor for seasonal agriculture work, as female workers were paid less than male workers in the sector, said Çiftçi, an official from the ZMO, an NGO that works primarily for improving the living and working conditions of agriculture workers.
“Female workers get 41 Turkish Liras a day while this amount is 54 liras for male workers in seasonal agriculture work, according to statistical data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute [TÜİK] in 2014” Çiftçi said.
Based on the same data, Çiftçi said, female workers in seasonal agriculture work were not provided, in general, with health insurance, social security or motherhood insurance.
“Low socio-economic status for women causes marriage at earlier ages, frequent pregnancy and inaccessible birth services in agricultural farmlands, risking infancy life and even infant deaths” he added.
Pointing to a recent accident involving female agriculture workers, Çiftçi said as many as 15 agriculture workers, 13 of whom were female, died in a pickup truck crash in the Aegean province of Manisa on July 6.
Çiftçi also said 18 agriculture workers died as a minibus carrying a group of seasonal workers, mostly female, rolled over in the southern province of Isparta on Oct. 31, 2014.
Touching upon the poor working conditions of female workers in seasonal agriculture work, Çiftçi said they should be housed in containers with electricity and running water, rather than tents.
“Laundry services and kitchens should be provided near the campuses in which [seasonal agriculture workers] stay over the period of the agriculture work... Female workers in seasonal agriculture work should be trained on violence against women and the vitality of gender equality in society” he added.
Meanwhile, a report released on June 2 by the Worker Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSGM), a non-profit platform which deals with worker health and safety issues, says at least 646 workers died in Turkey during the first five months of 2015.
The report says at least 128 workers died in January, 85 in February, 139 in March and 133 in April this year.
At least 161 workers died in May alone the highest monthly toll for worker deaths in the first five months this year, the report stressed.
The number of agriculture sector workers who died in May was at least 39, while three other sectors in which worker deaths were seen over the first five-month period in 2015 were the construction, transportation and trade sectors.