Workers remember dead colleagues on Int’l Miners’ Day
ZONGULDAK / ANKARA
Miners across the country commemorated their colleagues who died in accidents across the country to mark International Miners’ Day on Dec. 4.
Trade unionists and colleagues visited a cemetery in the Soma district of the western province of Manisa, where the country’s worst ever industrial accident took place when 301 workers died in the collapse of a mine in 2014.
“We want employees to be more careful about workplace security,” said Tamer Küçükgencay, a unionist at the ceremony.
“We want to cooperate with employees who seriously invest in occupational health and security. This is a natural right,” he said.
Workers at a facility of state-run Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises (TTK) also commemorated their colleagues at a ceremony in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, where 30 miners died in a methane explosion inside the mine on May 17, 2010.
General Mining Workers’ Union (GMİS) chair Ahmet Demirci extended his condolences to the families of victims.
The workers also remembered two of their friends who died in an accident last week.
A total of 7,596 people work at Turkish Hard Coal Enterprise (TTK) facilities in Zonguldak, but the figure doubles when those working at private and unregistered mines are considered.
A total of 84 miners were killed in the first 11 months of 2017, according to figures revealed by the Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSİG), an occupational health NGO.
Most deaths were at lignite, hard coal, marble, stone and copper mines, with six of the deaths taking place at mines owned by the TTK.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mehmet Tüm said in a statement that the working conditions at mines in Turkey “lagged 100 years behind Europe.”
“It is no coincidence that ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cited the conditions in England in 1862 after the Soma disaster,” Tüm said, adding that almost no people have died in mines in Europe in the last five decades.
“At least 100 miners die every year in Turkey due to working conditions that are not inspected. Workers do not even have the right to strike under the conditions of the ongoing state of emergency,” he said.