Compensating families for workplace accidents is natural: Labor minister
ANKARA – Doğan News Agency
Labor Minister Faruk Çelik responds to a question about claims that some families had withdrawn their complaints against the Torunlar Construction Company over the elevator accident. AA PhotoTurkish Labor Minister Faruk Çelik has said it is “natural” for a construction firm to cover the expenses of children whose fathers died in an elevator accident last month at the same firm’s construction site in Istanbul.
“It is good if [the firm owners] look after the children who lost their fathers in an accident, in addition to the rights they will receive by law. Some think this should not take place, but it would be merciless [for a company] to say that it will do nothing but observe legal rights,” said Çelik.
He was responding to a question about claims that some families had withdrawn their complaints against the Torunlar Construction Company over the elevator accident after receiving money from the firm, following a Sept. 6 elevator accident that killed 10 workers at the Torun Center construction site in central Istanbul.
“It is very natural for employers to make efforts to provide new opportunities, apart from the ones already given by the law, for the education of children [who lost their parents in work accidents]. I do not want to judge anyone, neither the families nor the company, as we do not know what was discussed between them,” Çelik told reporters on Oct. 23.
His remarks came after one victim’s family’s lawyer said on Oct. 22 that eight families of the workers killed in the accident have accepted money offered by the company and have withdrawn their complaints against it.
Mustafa Tanrıverdi, the lawyer of deceased worker Bilal Bal’s family, said Torunlar GYO had offered the family money to withdraw its complaints, which the family accepted.
“All the responsibility belongs to the elevator company. A reasonable amount of money was paid. A peace protocol was signed, the money was received,” said Tanrıverdi, adding that eight other families had made a deal with Torunlar GYO.
Three other workers’ families said they were also offered money by the firm in exchange for removing their compliant but said they did not accept the money.
Erdoğan İnce, lawyer for the family of deceased worker Murat Usta, said Usta’s family was also offered 500,000 Turkish Liras, but had not accepted it. He said Torunlar GYO was offering families amounts of money that they could not resist, but the Usta family had turned it down and instead filed a suit for damages worth 820,000 liras.
According to the indictment of the accident, charges against the top board members of Torunlar GYO have been dropped. But a total of 25 people, including 12 Torunlar GYO employees, five people from the elevator maintenance company, and eight people from the workplace safety company are facing charges that could lead to between four and 22.5 years in jail.
The prosecutor wrote in his explanation that an additional decision had been reached for these nine people that there were no grounds for prosecution for “reckless killing of 10 people” and for “affecting the people pursuing jurisdiction” charges.
Some 12 employees of Torunlar GYO, including Vice General Manager Remzi Aydın and the project manager responsible for the entire project Murat Aytimur, five employees from the GEDA Major Elevator Company including the company’s partner Orhan Demirel, and eight employees from the NCA workplace safety company including the Work Safety Specialist and Project Supervisor Mert Çanakçı, are among the 25 people who are accused on charges of the reckless killing of 10 people.
Torun Center is being built on the former site of the Turkish football club Galatasaray’s Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Şişli’s Mecidiyeköy neighborhood. The elevator malfunctioned while the workers were trying to leave the site at around 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 6 after the completion of their shift.