ILO before and after Soma

ILO before and after Soma

They first convey their condolences and sorrow. Then they start asking questions: “Why do you have so many mine accidents? What exactly happened in Soma? How are your mines inspected? The hike in the number of mine accidents is extraordinary; aren’t there any measures being taken?”

It is covered as a tiny news story, the story of a delegation from the International Labor Organization (ILO) holding meetings and visiting Ankara and Istanbul after the Soma disaster. In this delegation ILO’s Europe Regional Deputy Director Rie Vejs-Kjeldgaard, ILO mining expert Martin Hahn and three Turkish experts from ILO office in Turkey were present.

The ILO delegation was not able to meet Labor Minister Faruk Çelik; they met the deputy minister. Additionally, they met with trade unions under Türk-İş and DİSK.

One week before

The Soma disaster happened May 13. A meeting was held one week before the disaster with the ILO in Geneva, attended by labor unions and employer unions, as well as government representatives. There, the ILO questioned the government:

“In Turkey, labor accidents happen the most in mines and then next in construction sites. Turkey still has not signed the ILO agreement as a measure.”

In Geneva, the ILO warned one more time; occupational health, occupational safety, checks in mines and construction zones were discussed. This happened one week before the disaster. For months, there were warnings internationally and domestically. Nobody was listening to them.

Soma yesterday

Before Soma, Turkey was on the ILO’s blacklist. The ILO delegation that came to investigate Soma will write a report, I guess. In addition to the blacklist, the Soma disaster has happened; it is not difficult to guess Turkey’s grade in that report.

Among the union officials the delegation has met, there are: the chair of Dev-Maden-Sen, from DİSK Tayfun Görgün. I met Görgün in Soma yesterday. He said the workers’ reactions against the employer, the government and the mining union from Türk-İş were continuing. Görgün thinks the ILO will scrutinize Turkey over Soma.

Almost a thousand recruits in PKK

From the point of the government: On one hand, there is the resolution process, on the other hand, there are the newly built police castle-stations (kalekol).

From the point of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK): On one hand, there are statements continuously supporting the process; on the other hand, there is the taking of children to the mountains and kidnaping of people.

The lack of confidence between the government and the PKK is climbing dangerously. The PKK, even though not as intensely as it did before, is demonstrating its mistrust to the government by kidnapping men and children, by staging attacks on various places. According to PKK claims, the fact that the government has not taken any steps, even though they have made promises on issues such as introducing a legal dimension to the negotiations with İmralı and opening the way to politics for those coming down from the mountains as the resolution process unfolds, has made the PKK take action. 

While new tension is being experienced every day, such as the local elections, presidential elections and Soma, the public is not much interested in what is going on in the southeast; whereas, over the past year, the PKK has taken almost 1000 children and young people to the mountains and has engaged in serious preparations. The 14 families who are staging protests are the ones whose children have been kidnapped recently.

It is not hard to guess what this climb will transform into unless a step is taken after the presidential elections.