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Turkey: Extreme temperatures in strawberry greenhouse creates challenging harvesting conditions for workers

Despite the challenging working conditions, strawberry pickers still have to make a living. Workers in Aydin, where strawberries are grown in greenhouses, continue to toil for a living in greenhouses with temperatures as high as fifty degrees. During their shifts, which begin at sunrise, workers continue to drink water and take brief breaks.

Data from the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry show that Aydin, Turkey's second-largest strawberry-producing center, has 2400 hectares of greenhouse space dedicated to greenhouse production. The "Sultanhisar strawberry," which bears a geographical indication, is grown in the districts of Sultanhisar and Kosk. In the area, where 95,000 tons of strawberries are grown yearly, about 10,000 people earn a living from the crop.
The laborers leave before dawn and witness the dawn while inside the greenhouse. As temperatures rise, workers' already difficult working conditions—which include constant bending over—become even more difficult. Because of the greenhouse effect produced by the plastic cover, temperatures can rise to 50 degrees. Because of this, workers begin their shifts at dawn, work through a few short breaks, and finish at noon. In an attempt to stay cool, workers frequently drink and pour water over their heads.

Male employees are paid $23 per day, while women who work in greenhouses are only paid $19 per day.

One of the strawberry workers, Belguzar Cona, stated that they keep working despite the sweltering heat. Cona remarked, "For instance, inside the greenhouse, it is 45 degrees when the outside temperature is 35. It can be intolerable at times. People even faint occasionally. Even though this is an extremely challenging job, everyone comes here to make ends meet."

Another worker, Selma Asrak stated, "Even though we finish work at noon, sometimes it is so hot, we cannot stand it. I came to work to support my family. Strawberries are hard to find in the grass but this is our life." Another laborer, Guler Cakmak, concurred that there weren't many job options in the area this season.

Lastly, greenhouse worker Naciye Geris noted that because their work finishes at noon, people around her say, "What a great job you have." Geris said: "Of course, they don't know how hot it is in the greenhouse. It's really difficult in the greenhouse. When you stand there for 5 minutes, you understand how it is, but we have to do what to do. Our legs and waist hurt a lot because we bend over all the time. Picking strawberries is very difficult compared to other jobs."

Source: Haberler

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