New Soma agreement ‘leaves workers barefoot’

New Soma agreement ‘leaves workers barefoot’

İZMİR - Doğan News Agency
New Soma agreement ‘leaves workers barefoot’

DHA photo

A controversial recently-signed collective agreement between Soma Mining Inc., Imbat Inc. and Turkey’s mining union, Maden-iş has been disclosed, raising criticism that all the gains of miners have been “melted” in the new agreement.

The companies have demanded workers eat their fill on 3 Turkish Liras per day, while miners’ rights to cloaks and shoes were revoked. Additionally, half of the coal to be provided to workers was cut from the collective agreement.

The collective agreement for 2015-2018 season involves more than 10 thousand miners’ lives and rights. Meanwhile, Imbat Inc. has been laying workers off in recent days.

After a mine disaster in the Soma district of Aegean province of Manisa left 301 miners dead in May 2014, debates were raised over work safety and employee health, along with accusations against unions and mining company employers.

Details of agreement not shared with workers

Details of this recent collective agreement have not been announced by company officials or by the union. In addition, workers who demanded the agreement conditions were not informed about the new agreement despite their requests.

Although workers will “lose some of their rights” according to experts, Maden-iş Union’s representative for the Aegean Region, Recep Satır, said he had a “clean conscious” about the contract. Satır defended the agreement, saying the booklets have not been distributed to workers “due to typos.”

“The value of these withdrawn rights will be reassured to workers through monetary aid,” Satır added.

The agreement increases miners’ salaries by 6 percent and defines the consumer price index increase rate for six months. On the other hand, according to a worker’s title, base pays will be removed from the conditions and added to the salary. Thus, the minimum wage increase will be prevented for workers, said Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chairman Özgür Özel. The monetary assistance for shoes and cloaks to be given once every two years was also removed from the agreement.

Actual working days were laid down as a condition, reducing the existing coal given to workers by 2.5 tons, despite the severe winter conditions in the Soma district.

According to Özel, “the union leaves workers are barefoot,” while the “rights offered with a spoon have been retaken with a scoop.” The union backs the employee, not the workers, with even worse agreements than the previous ones, Özel slammed.

A former director for mining union Yeraltı Maden İş, Ömer Kamil Kartal, also criticized the conditions of the agreement. According to Kartal, the agreement represents a loss in social rights, rather than a gain, with the average worker losing up to 6,000 Turkish Liras and a skilled miner, at least 8,500 liras.