Turkey prepares to sign ILO codes on mining, construction

Turkey prepares to sign ILO codes on mining, construction

Turkey prepares to sign ILO codes on mining, construction

A construction worker walks in front of graffiti reading 'worker council' during a demonstration on Sept. 8 in Istanbul. AFP Photo / Ozan KÖSE

Turkey is preparing to sign two International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on safety and health in mining and construction, following widespread discussions about the recent Soma mining disaster and the deadly work accident in Istanbul.

Labor Minister Faruk Çelik said Sept. 23 that the Cabinet has already approved signing of the ILO’s conventions numbered 167 and 176. The adoption will be voted on at Parliament next month.

On May 13, 301 coal miners were killed in a disaster in the western town of Soma, the worst mining disaster in Turkey’s history, which brought working conditions at mines across Turkey into the spotlight.

On Sept. 10, 10 workers at an Istanbul construction site were killed after the collapse of an industrial elevator.

Çelik, who was criticized for both incidents, spoke at a panel session held by a construction sector employers’ organization and a sector trade union on Sept. 23.

Convention No. 176 of the ILO, established in 1995, aims to prevent fatalities, injuries or ill health affecting workers or members of the public, including damage to the environment from mining operations. Convention No. 167, established in 1988, focuses on conditions at construction sites.

“A country where such accidents continue to happen, where photos of such incidents keep finding place on the front pages of newspapers, cannot be called a developed country,” he said at the Ankara panel.

Çelik said he was ready to be named as a scapegoat as minister but stressed that he was doing his best to correct wrongs.

In response to criticism, a week after the Soma disaster, of inefficient inspection of mines, Çelik argued previously that Turkey’s law on mining labor safety was “more advanced than the ILO’s standards.”