Turkey has 800,000 child workers, says union head
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
AA photoThere are around 800,000 child workers in Turkey aged between 14 and 16, Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ) head Ergün Atalay has said, adding that problems persist despite measures on the issue taken by the Labor and Social Security Ministry.
“The majority of [child workers] work in the agriculture sector or at construction sites and mines ... The terror group [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] also holds 4,000 children, aged between 11 and 15,” said Atalay, calling for more steps to be taken to address the problem.
His remarks were delivered at the 8th International Labor Health and Security Conference organized by the Labor and Social Security Ministry in Istanbul.
Atalay also said unions and workers had long been waiting for the recently passed Labor Health and Security Law.
“Unfortunately, some 589 workers have lost their lives in our country over the past four months. Approximately four people die every day [at work]. There are also those who get injured and disabled. Their families pay for this, but our state also pays,” said Atalay.
The TÜRK-İŞ head said the mine disaster in Soma in May 2014 was a “turning point” for Turkey’s government, ministries, and unions.
“But unfortunately the cost was high. After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğnan’s order, the shift hours in mines decreased to six hours and they [miners] now have two days off every week,” said Atalay.
Also speaking at the conference, Labor Health and Security General President Kasım Özer describe the new law as a “milestone,” saying moves after it went into effect were “crucial steps for the development of a preventative safety culture and the rise in awareness.”