Parliament rejects motions on gov’t officials over mine disaster

Parliament rejects motions on gov’t officials over mine disaster

Parliament rejects motions on gov’t officials over mine disaster

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) holds a meeting with a group of 10 miners from Soma representing workers who recently held a sit-in protest in front of Soma municipality after the mine disaster.

Parliament’s General Assembly on May 22 has rejected censure motions filed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (HDP) against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız and Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, due to alleged failure over the Soma disaster.

Özgür Özel, a CHP deputy from Soma who unsuccessfully petitioned to hold an inquiry into safety at the mine in October 2013, called for the resignation of the ministers, and also criticized the low turnout at the debate from AKP lawmakers. “The responsibility for the disaster has been with two ministers up to now. But the responsibility is now with [all] lawmakers of the ruling party,” Özel said.

He said only 45 AKP deputies were present at the assembly, contrasting this with the more than 300 who were in attendance when the government submitted its controversial recent intelligence agency law. HDP lawmaker Ayla Akat Ata questioned why the government did not take necessary measures on the issue earlier, as at least 292 miners have been killed across Turkey over the last three years.

Meeting with miners

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdoğan held a closed-door meeting with a group of 10 miners from Soma representing the workers who recently held a sit-in protest in front of the Soma municipality building.

Energy Minister Yıldız and Labor Minister Çelik, whose responsibility over the disaster is hotly debated, were also present at the meeting, along with ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Salih Kapusuz and a number of other AKP deputies.

“We will share their problems and pains. Together we’ll determine requirements and the things to do. We’ll make a road map together after this sad incident,” Kapusuz told Anadolu Agency. He added that the group of miners would meet representatives of other political parties and Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Turk-Is) Chairman Ergun Atalay, to discuss working conditions, work safety and related union issues. A delegation from the International Labor Organization (ILO) has also been holding talks in Ankara. The three-person group paid its first meeting to the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş) May 22.

“On behalf of the Director General of ILO, we are here to extend to our constituents and the workers who suffered from the accident in Soma our sympathy and support. The mission is undertaking consultations with all our constituents to understand their priorities for what should be done in the future to avoid such tragedies. If the ILO is requested to extend its technical expertise for future collaboration with our constituents, we are ready for such collaboration,” the delegation said in a statement.

Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam said her ministry was working to extend assistance to the grieving families in Soma. “So far we have reached 289 families. Some 255 of the deceased miners were married and 46 were single,” İslam said. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay denied reports that public money would not be included in compensation to the miners’ families.

Unemployed after mining jobs

Almost half of the 10,482 unemployed people in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, would like to work in the mines, according to the head of the local employment office.

Many prefer to work at the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Authority (TTK) because the working conditions and salaries are poorer with the private companies, Gönül Demirsu, the Labor and Employment Manager for the company said.