‘Don’t be ungrateful,’ Turkish President Erdogan tells protesting workers

Erdogan’s visit to Batman raised hackles when local officials said that they will not attend his rallies

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday told a group of workers demanding better conditions to stop being “ungrateful,” ahead of looming parliamentary elections in June.

The group of subcontracted workers – who are commonly denied benefits such as social security and insurance – were shouting slogans demanding permanent jobs during a speech by Erdogan in the southeastern city of Batman, Istanbul-based newspaper Today’s Zaman reported.


“Don't be ungrateful. You have a job, don't be ungrateful,” Erdogan told the group, adding that “steps would be taken after the elections” on June 7.

Erdogan’s visit to Batman raised hackles when mayors from the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces said on Friday that they will not attend his rallies, over concerns he would campaign for the ruling AK Party – of which he is a founding leader.

During these tensions, Batman’s mayor refused to welcome him at his arrival, and Erdogan criticized the “filth” of the city’s streets.

Erdogan’s visit to the country’s southeast comes a day after unrest in the country’s largest city of Istanbul, where police fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of stone-throwing May Day protesters on Friday, after they defied a ban and tried to march on a large square.

Istanbul police said nearly 140 people had been detained, although activists said the number was nearly double that. The city's governor said 6 police officers and 18 protestors had been injured in clashes, which died out as the afternoon wore on and a clean-up operation got underway.

Critics say President Erdogan and the government have become more authoritarian in the buildup to June elections.

Recent polls say AKP is on course for another election win in June but he may fall short of the massive victory Erdogan is targeting to allow him to change the constitution and bolster his presidential powers.

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