Thousands including child workers employed in unlicensed mines in southeastern Turkey
Most of the mines around Mount Cudi are unlicensed. AA PhotoAttention to the safety condition of miners working in unlicensed coal mines around the Cudi Mountains in the eastern province of Şırnak has increased since the Soma mine disaster that killed 301 workers in May.
Over 3,000 people, including children, are employed in Şırnak mines without receiving any social security while working in unsanitary and extremely dangerous conditions, according to a report by daily Milliyet, which also claimed that the mines lacked even the most basic form of safety measures, as miners work without helmets and gas masks.
According to unofficial figures, nearly 200 people have died since the mines were privatized by the general directorate of Turkish Coal Enterprises (TKİ) in 1998.
Nevertheless, locals who work in the mines continue to pressure the companies to keep the mines open as they are the only source of income in the area.
On June 21, in the aftermath of a landslide that saw three workers lose their lives, miners and their relatives staged a demonstration asking for the mines not to be closed, but for working conditions to be improved.
Working in mines at the age of 16
According to the report, there are workers young as 16 employed in the mines, although the exact number of child workers is still unknown.
A 16-year-old worker told daily Milliyet that he worked during the summer to help his family, earning 30 Liras a day. “There is neither a watermelon plantation nor a construction site where I can work, that’s why I am come here [to work],” he said.
Following an inspection conducted last year, the future of those mines still remains unclear as no progress has been made after it was decided to halt production until basic safety measures had been implemented.
However, coal production continues at various mines in the Cudi Mountains as the authorities have failed to efficiently regulate companies working in the area.