Let’s talk about construction workers too
When 301 workers died all at once in the Soma disaster, “work-related deaths” or “murders” were on the agenda on all dimensions.
The labor minister was telling the truth when he said there were no serious shortcomings in our regulations, but it was still all discussed: The lack of inspections, sub-contracting and the deadly system were all condemned.
But, in the end, Soma was only one of the stops of a drama that has been going on for years. In our country, workers die every day. Every year, four times the number of workers who died in Soma die on the job.
And, you know, it's not the mining sector where work-related killings take place the most - it's construction.
In the past five months, 100 workers have died on high-rise building construction sites by falling from heights. According to Labor Ministry data, there are 850,000 construction workers in Turkey. But actually this is not the real figure.
This figure should be 1.5 times more, as estimated by the Construction Workers Association. They make the following calculation: “A contractor insures his family and his master builder, but the other workers they have hired are not insured.”
When you look into how the food, accommodation and cleaning needs are met at construction sites, then you will better understand their working conditions. For example, in a construction site where there are 1,700 workers, there may be four toilets. Or on a construction site of 30 floors, the toilets may be on the 7th floor. How can the worker go down and use the toilet?
If you say accommodation, you may see that in many construction sites, in living spaces where there is room for four people, 16 people are actually staying. Can you talk about occupational health in such conditions?
All construction workers have work-related illnesses. COPD, respiratory insufficiency, lung and skin diseases are widespread. Herniated discs are practically compulsory.
A lack of inspection and the subcontracting system, which are main reasons for occupation-related deaths, are also in abundance in the construction field. Medieval methods are indispensable for construction zones, just as in mines.
Construction workers very often work on scaffolding, even though there are modern machines that can be used to ensure effective work safety. You press a button and it moves, it goes right and left. It's almost impossible to fall from such vehicles.
If the employer imposes primitive working scaffolding instead of modern methods, then when a worker dies he cannot describe it as “a moment of carelessness of the worker.” He should be held responsible for predictable and preventable workplace murder.
In short, the tragedy of workers in our country is not specific to mines.
The story is always the same. Contractors make subcontractors compete with wages a few times lower than theirs, and the workers fight each other for jobs. The job goes to the subcontractor who offers the lowest price. The aim is to finish the job fast. The only way is speed.
For the sake of this, measures that need to be taken on site are not taken in order to save money. Then workers die one after the other.
There are controllers who are paid by the employer, experts who act in favor of the employer, and the public cannot prosecute… The rest of the story is the same…
Now that we are scrutinizing the Soma mine, we should continue scrutinizing other sectors too.