Turkey marks Labor Day in shadow of pandemic

Country’s president, top officials honor workers on May 1 Labor Day

Sena Guler, Dilan Pamuk and Jeyhun Aliyev   | 01.05.2021
Turkey marks Labor Day in shadow of pandemic


Turkey’s leader and top officials on Saturday marked Labor and Solidarity Day.

"We won't allow any opportunity in our country to those who wish to exploit that sacred sweat on our workers' brow," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said following an iftar, a fast-breaking meal in the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with factory workers in the metropolis of Istanbul.

Noting that Labor and Solidarity Day began being marked in Turkey during his tenure as prime minister, Erdogan said the event was the "greatest proof" of solidarity with workers in Turkey.

He said some radical terrorist groups were "trying to make this beautiful day meaningless," noting that this happens not only in Turkey, but also in the streets of Paris.

"When it comes to words, people who rule Paris and those who live there describe these events very differently. Today, all the windows and frames of shops in Paris were broken and burned down. It used to be the same here [Turkey] as well, but now, there is no such opportunity, and it won't be given either," he said.

"Because we want to celebrate this day as a feast with the workers," Erdogan added, underlining that no serious incident had occurred in Turkey on this May 1.

"I congratulate my fellow workers, who make our country grow while breaking a sweat, on May 1 Labor and Solidarity Day," Erdogan said earlier on Twitter, sharing the link of his message marking the day issued on Friday.

Greatest contribution to growth

Vice President Fuat Oktay also took to Twitter to greet workers and laborers who “make the greatest contribution to the growth and development of our country.”

Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said: “We have been with our fellow workers with all our strength until today and we will continue to stand by them from now on.”

In a Twitter post, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, said: "I congratulate all of our laborers who work constantly to add value to our country and pursue their livelihood with their hard work."

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu marked the day with a message.

“We congratulate all our workers who add value to this country with their efforts,” Soylu said.

Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul celebrated the day wishing a "Happy Labor and Solidarity Day".

Derya Yanik, the family and social services minister, applauded the Turkish citizens "who have contributed to the growth and development of our country."

National Education Minister Ziya Selcuk wrote on Twitter: "I wholeheartedly congratulate the Labor Day to everyone … who enjoy their labor and dignity side by side."

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also marked the day, saying: "On May 1 Labor and Solidarity Day, I congratulate all of my laborer fellows, especially our healthcare professionals who work devotedly and honestly."

May Day or International Workers' Day first emerged as an event commemorating the labor of workers worldwide on May 1, 1886, when a group of workers in the US held a massive strike for an eight-hour workday.

Turkey’s first official May Day celebrations were held in 1923.

As a public health measure to fight the virus, Turkey started a complete lockdown starting Thursday evening and lasting until May 17.

The lockdown will cover the remainder of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as well as three days of the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

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