Turkey elected to governing body of ILO

Turkey elected to governing body of ILO

Turkey elected to governing body of ILO

This file photo shows workers of the Soma mine following Soma disaster that claimed the lives of 301 victims.

Turkey’s Labor and Social Security Ministry has proudly announced that the government has been elected to the governing body of the International Labor Organization (ILO) for the period between 2014 and 2017. 

Ironically enough, the June 2 election in which Turkey received the highest number of votes came less than three weeks after the country’s worst industrial accident killed 301 workers in a coal mine, as said by the Labor and Social Security Ministry on June 3.

“This result is important in regard to being a reflection of our country’s active stance in international organizations,” said the statement June 3 by the Labor and Social Security Ministry, which, along with the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, has been at the center of heated debates over claims of governmental failure to ensure work safety standards in the mining sector.

The ministry recalled that the governing body is the executive body of the ILO – meeting three times a year: in March, June and November – and makes decisions on ILO policy, decides the agenda of the International Labor Conference, adopts the draft Program and Budget of the Organization for submission to the Conference and elects the Director-General.

“Turkey assumed this duty in the past during the years of 1996-1999,” the ministry noted.

The governing body is composed of 56 titular members and 66 deputy members, classified as governments, employers and workers. Ten of the titular government seats are permanently held by states of chief industrial importance – Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. The other 18 government members are elected by the conference every three years.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government came under fire in the wake of the disaster, which followed a string of smaller, but fatal mine accidents.

Soma Mining, the company that runs the disaster-hit mine in the town of Soma in the western Anatolian province of Manisa, has denied negligence and any wrongdoing.

For its part, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said the mine had been inspected 11 times over the past five years and dismissed claims that there were loopholes in mining safety regulations.
A delegation from the ILO visited Turkey around a week after the accident to discuss work safety and health with Turkish authorities and advise the related bodies on the aftermath of the disaster.

During the same time, in response to criticism about the inefficient inspection of mines, Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik suggested Turkey’s laws on mining labor safety are more advanced than the requirements proposed by the ILO.

“This tragedy is a reminder of the paramount importance of occupational safety and health in the mining sector. The ILO stands ready to provide continued support to ensure the safety of workers in line with international standards and to prevent future accidents,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in a condolence message extended on May 14 to the families of the miners killed in Turkey.