Harmony with ILO mining convention under spotlight

Harmony with ILO mining convention under spotlight

Harmony with ILO mining convention under spotlight As discussions on Turkey’s hesitance to undersign an International Labor Organization (ILO) convention on mining heat up following the Soma disaster, changing the current situation depends on the will of the government, former Chamber of Mining Engineers head Mehmet Torun has said.

“If the government wants to, it can enforce the implementation of the ILO requirements immediately. We do not necessarily have to sign the document to fulfill the sensitive conditions of the ILO,” Torun told Hurriyet, adding that a ministerial notice would be enough to work.

Some media reports have said the Labor Ministry has been working on the related item and even halting work in mines until a revision of regulations was on the agenda.  Ministry sources, however, have said it was too early to speak about closing mines and the current regulations did not foresee such a move.

Kazım Öner, Work Safety and Security General Manager at the Labor Ministry, told Hürriyet that the government had begun studying the mining regulations before the Soma disaster, adding that a proper study would take time.

Torun, meanwhile, said there was no need to close the mines, but stressed that warning mine operators about the new code could yield results. He said companies were failing to meet the basic requirements of the current work safety laws.

Nedret Durukan, the head of the Istanbul branch of the Chamber of Mining Engineers, told the Daily News that the crucial point was implementation, rather than Turkey not having signed the ILO convention.

“If [Turkish law] is in conformity with the EU, then why has Turkey not signed the ILO convention? The law has its shortcomings, but even if you have the best laws, what counts is the implementation of them,” she said.

Convention No. 176 was established in 1995 in order to prevent any fatalities, injuries or ill-health affecting workers or members of the public, including damage to the environment arising from mining operations.

The convention has been ratified by 28 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Russia, Armenia, Germany and Zimbabwe, but Turkey has so far refused to recognize the document.

The convention delegates responsibility to governments and the owners of mines with regard to health and safety.

However, Labor Ministry sources told Hürriyet that new legislation was not required to ensure workplace safety. “Preventing work-related accidents is the responsibility of employers. To do this, they should build rescue chambers [in mines] if they are needed, and they should take any other measures necessary,” Hürriyet quoted anonymous ministry sources as saying.

The May 13 Soma disaster in western Turkey claimed the lives of 301 coal miners.