Ateş Alpar – Adana
Coronavirus measures have had an especially severe effect on small and medium enterprises in Adana city of Turkey. Many shops have suspended business or turned to part-time work. Tradesmen were not supported by state income support measures. With the new coronavirus measures, which took effect on 20 November, the working hours of tradesmen were once again limited. The concerns of tradesmen who are still struggling with the difficulties of the previous precautionary package are increasing. Many tradesmen are struggling with poverty and unemployment due to the uncertainty of the economic situation, and many shops are in danger of closing down.
”I don’t remember being so broke, it was the first time I couldn’t afford my children’s school expenses. Sometimes I earn 20-30 Turkish lira per day. Nobody helps us, we cannot even seek our rights, nobody sees and listens us, we are suffering. The tradesmen are afraid to buy a cup of tea, of course, as you know, corona is everywhere, people do not drink tea. I used to sell nearly 200 teas a day, and went home peacefully, with something for my children. If I sell 30-40 teas a day now, I would say thank God. May God help us. If corona ends, I hope we can pull ourselves together.”
We talked to Ms. Şükran, 49, about the challenges of the pandemic. Şükran, who is a spice seller, did not want her face to be displayed, saying that her husband would not allow it.
”Selling spices has become harder, poverty has increased. It is difficult to be a tradeswoman, a family tradesman like me. You go home, cook, clean in the workplace, nobody pays their due, even your husband or children. In the past, our earnings were good, but this pandemic has damaged us financially. People buy spices from big markets and grocery stores. However, spices are better quality and cheaper from small tradespeople like us. I hope everything goes back to normal as before. I don’t want to be in the photo because I fear my husband. We get disrupted afterwards. In this process, it is difficult to find tradeswomen around us. The pandemic affected all tradespeople, but mostly women. You cannot find a woman shopkeeper around anymore. Since there are no schools, women have to take care of the children at home during the pandemic regulations”.
”We took loans from banks in order to get through this process and we have debts. The buyer comes almost every day and wants his money, you cannot say no. All our debts are on interest. We cannot afford anything. I cannot buy bread. There is a lockdown on weekends, our shop is closed, but we cannot deal with the economic damage caused by the corona by working five days a week. We are on the edge of closing down our shop. We cannot earn enough money to pay our loan. In the past, people had a love of nature, they would buy flowers and grow their surroundings. Believe me, we cannot sell for the last one year, we are having difficulty. I say thank God, if I can buy a bread for my house”.
”Before the pandemic, there was no problem in our work. We had difficulties when all cafes and restaurants were closed due to last week lockdown. Due to the lockdown, we cannot have customers inside, we only have takeaway service. We have had difficulties since the day we turned to takeaways. We fled the war in Syria when I was young. When we came from Syria, I got a job, learned a trade, became a master, we opened this place. I sell doner kebabs. My brothers used to come to help, now we have little work, we cannot earn money. I wish we could go back to Syria. It is very difficult to live here”.
Fatih, 46, worker in Turkish delight shop said: ”The work we do has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. When there is open food, people are afraid to buy it. On the other hand, the customer wants to taste the Turkish delight before buying. We are having difficulties under these restrictions. The state kept saying that it would support the tradesmen since the first day, but believe me, no one helps our business. If it goes like this, I don’t know if we’ll stay open. If it goes like this, we will have to close it. We have loans, we have to pay, but we have no money. These loans take on interest and what we have is running out”.
”The pandemic has devastated us. You pay taxes for so many years, but if you need it, no one help. If one or two customers come in a day, we can afford our food but what will be the rent, electricity and other bill. Of course we have difficulties to pay the loan. We had savings for bad days like this, and we’ve spent it for a year. Even if the corona vaccine comes out, we pray every day so that we can enjoy our work as before and earn money. I will use it to pay off debts. Our life is spent working and paying debts”.
”After the school, we come to my father’s greengrocer and help my father. We came for one or two days, we have been here since April. We used to go to school, my brother and I used to come to help my father for a few hours on the weekends, but now we are here. We cannot sell many materials anyway, people buy their vegetables and fruits from the markets. We are here with my brother almost every day, when we have lessons, we go home, when the homework is done, we immediately return to the grocery store. My brother used to be very fond of reading books, now believe me, I haven’t seen him reading a book since March. Life is hard, no money, no books. When the school are open, we go to our school. We missed our friends”.
”As you can see, things are hard. It used to be crowded around these times. We would bring the fish in the morning, it would be sold to them by noon at the latest. Now it is very difficult, sometimes the fish we bring is left unsold. It is difficult to sell. They are right. They cannot leave the house, they are afraid of entering the crowd. Every day people die from the disease. But at this rate, we will die of starvation, not corona. If we cannot get over this corona as soon as possible, we will go bankrupt as all trades. Every day, tradesmen are closing down, no one supports these businesses”.
”It is very difficult for people to come to repair their knives at that time when they are afraid of going out on the street. Sometimes there are
”I make handmade shoes. I was already having a hard time running my business because of the other big stores. We could not sell at all due to the pandemic. I have a teacher son, I wouldn’t be able to buy food with the money I earned from this workplace if he didn’t work and earn money. Thank God, my son supports us financially and I am more comfortable than many tradesmen but the tradesmen are in a very bad situation. People are closing down their father’s workplaces because they cannot earn enough money. The people are poor, they cannot find money. Health problems are increasing day by day”.
”I have a family to take care of but I lost my job because of the corona. I don’t have a profession, I sell second-hand shoes. This job is not difficult, we are waiting from morning to night. If I sell three or four a day, I get money. I pray that I can afford food. I want to learn a profession as soon as the corona ends. One day, if I have money, I want to study regardless of my age. Look around, everyone is sitting in front of the shop reading the newspaper. It has been like this for a long time. It is very difficult to earn money”.
”Well, these prohibitions are only for showing off. You know, if the state takes real measures, we say okay, we close the shutters. We take what we have and invest it in our health. But we do not believe in any of the measures taken by the state. The state’s explanations are changing. We are confused, our faith is going away. We had no faith in the state anyway. They invest for their own supporters. It is very difficult to sell second-hand clothes in these processes. Buying second-hand clothes has become much more difficult. Sometimes we close the shop without selling anything. It is a pity. I hope one will help us out as soon as possible”.