Workers blame management for deadly blast at fireworks factory
Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARA
A series of large explosions shook a fireworks factory in northwestern Sakarya province’s Hendek district on July 3, killing seven people and injuring 126.
After the deadly blast, Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into the accident.
Many of the factory’s workers testifying for the investigation put the blame on the factory’s management, saying the administration knew of the upcoming supervisions beforehand and prepared the factory accordingly.
“Women workers in the manufacturing plant were being pressured to produce more goods. Most of the time, women were not allowed to take breaks. If women workers did not work, they were being threatened with layoff,” said Ali S., who works at the factory’s fireworks department.
Ali S. also said that the management would know about the supervisions state institutions would carry out for a week ago and would inform the workers of the situation.
“Everywhere would be cleaned and prepared for supervision days,” Ali said, adding that plants, where chemicals are being produced, would be closed and the delegation coming for the supervision would not enter these places.
Another worker, Recep G., who worked at the factory for four years, said that the management would tell the delegation that the chemical plants were not being used for production and is closed.
“All production there would stop and the personnel working there would be shifted to plants were supervision would take place,” Recep said.
The factory’s occupational safety specialists said that the employers did not worry about safety and only cared about production.
“Even though I expressed the deficiencies to employers, they did not pay regard to it,” said Çiğdem S., a former safety specialist who worked at the factory for one year.
Meanwhile, Faruk E., another safety specialist, said that the workers were carrying explosives with them more than they should have.
“[The workers] were telling me that if they were not to reach the targeted amount, then employer Ali Rıza Ergenç Coşkun was reprimanding them,” he said.