“The unemployment timebomb is ticking”

“The unemployment timebomb is ticking”

A very important article from the Telegraph – in a financial tsunami, we should never think the first wave will be the last nor the biggest. İf the unemployment shoe has yet to really drop, this would clearly be a triggering event for new and greater financial decline in the near future.

Walking the streets of İstanbul this morning the signs of unemployed are apparent- men clustered in the shade of trees, sharing their consternation over cups of tea – others sat alone, lining the benches and retainer walls outside Sirkeci station, distant from the busying neighborhood, waiting.

Across from the station, in a little traingular park wedged between two big roads, there appears to be a never-ending gathering for the unemployed and newly arrived. Two years ago Marshall and İ walked through this same park passing uncomfortably through the same throng of men – perhaps now a hundred. At the time a man (perhaps the patron of the gathering) smiled at us as we passed and exclaimed “we`re finding people work!”

Last night, on the short taxi from Taksim over the golden horn to Sirkeci, my friendly but frustrated driver gave me an earful (partially understood, İ admit) of the current situation. He himself owned a furnature workshop (ahşap atölyesi) but said there were no orders for work and that the taxi was his only means. As we crossed the wide span of the Galata bridge, he threw up his hand at the sight of men, some with their families, lining the water-side railing of the bridge, fishing rods a loft, at 12 midnight. “Bak, işsizlik” (look…unemployment) he said with a vindicated look.

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excuse the occacional misspelling and poor grammar – the Turkish keyboard is a bit all over the place compared to what İm used to.

2 Responses

  1. Chelsea says:

    The archaeology crew hired a lot of locals, maybe 40-50 men, I’m not sure what they did the rest of the year. My friend, one of the shovelers, also worked for a photography studio. A lot were farmers, more or less subsistence farmers, maybe with extra products like olive oil soap, or saplings to sell. I never asked about rent, or if most own their homes. The archaeology dig didn’t pay them much, according to how much I spent as a tourist. A lot of the commercial farmers had women working in the fields. Do you see any signs of unemployed women?

    • Reed says:

      Thanks for these insights Chelsea! The employment world in Turkey (i.e. how people come to work where they work and how they work in terms of city, industry, employer) has always been a mystery to me, and your thoughts here are helping me.

      Gulhane park in İstanbul is filled with massive chestnut trees that each fall drop a bonanza of fresh nuts on the ground and sure enough, come winter, there are many men selling fresh roasted chestnuts (from the same park İm not sure) in all areas of the city. Are these the same men who in Summer stand on street corners selling toys, razors, lighters or whatever came in on the last tanker from China? İf the restaurant down the street were hiring a waiter, would these men apply? Or would their clothes, accent (Spoken turkish reveals ones city/region of origin instantly, apparently) or other unspoken social-criteria disqualify them? How it all works İ do not know…but sure enough, around 7am, men and (some) women fill the dock area of Eminonu and the waiting hall of Sirkeci station as the first commuter boats and trains arrive, and within another hour the streets are humming, injected with hundreds of thousands, going to work.

      As for women’s access to the workplace…excellent question – İ need to learn more about this. A walk through the city shows me that yes, there are many women working in some professions, but that many professions are denied them and kept the sole domain of men – sad, because you know that most women here are prevented from reaching their real potential in life

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