Company pushes trauma-hit miners to resume work
MANİSAAfter the burial of 301 workers who lost their lives in the May 13 mine disaster in Soma, the resuming of industrial work has turned into a hot debate, with miners refusing to go underground at other facilities in the mourning town.
A job posting on the website of the official local employment office has also triggered reactions.
The workers were asked to return to work, starting at midnight on the night of May 19-20, at three mines operated by Soma Holding, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Özgür Özel told reporters in a briefing in front of the Soma government office late on May 19.
Other mining facilities in the region have also made the same call, without considering the trauma and mourning period of the locals, he added.
However, CHP Deputy Head Sezgin Tanrıkulu discussed the situation with Energy Minister Taner Yıldız and Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, and concluded that no miners would be forced to go back to work, Özel also said. He said the contracts of workers refusing to go back into the mine would not be abolished and their daily wages would not be cut.
Özel said the workers were psychologically not yet ready to return to work, adding that forcing them to do so was against both Turkish and international labor laws.
Meanwhile, the main labor union in Soma called on thousands of workers to put down their tools at mines run by the same operator on May 20, until all sites have been properly inspected.
“We want mining affairs directorate inspectors to carry out inspections and we will walk out until this has been done,” Tamer Küçükgencay, the regional head of the Maden-İş labour union, told reporters.
He said the action would affect 3,200 mine workers in the town, where Soma Mining has three separate sites, including the one hit by the accident last week. Monday was a public holiday in Turkey and the local miners have not yet returned to work since the tragedy.
After the press meeting, Küçükgencay himself faced reactions from some angry local protesters, and he was forced to take shelter in the town hall.
A job posting on the official website of the state’s employment office said 100 miners from Soma and neighboring towns were sought for the Soma Kömür İşletmeli A.Ş., the group company of the owner of the disaster-hit mine. The posting did not ask for any job experience or for military service to have been completed, but mentioned that on-job-training would be delivered.
“This posting proves that the state is associate to the crime in Soma,” said lawmaker Özel in a separate statement, adding that the fact it does not ask for any qualifications for mining candidates was reason enough to inspect the company.