Workers locked themselves in mine to protest layoff their colleagues

Workers locked themselves in mine to protest layoff their colleagues

ZONGULDAK – Doğan News Agency
Workers locked themselves in mine to protest layoff their colleagues

AA Photo

Some 350 workers have begun a protest by locking themselves inside a mine in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak in reaction to the dismissal of their 60 colleagues.

When the workers arrived at the mine early Dec. 18, they learned that their colleagues had been laid off by the company that runs the mine, Hema Coal Mining, which is under Hattat Holding, and which had previously dismissed 29 workers.

The company hung a notification at the entrance of the mine with a list of the dismissed miners, saying it had annulled their labor contracts on the grounds that an economic problem occurred due to the mine’s reserves.

The mine has 4-4.5 megatons of reserves, not the 12 megatons that was cited in the tender when the company rented the mine from the Turkish Coal Institute (TTK) in 2005, the company said. The company also said it would hire the dismissed workers at other facilities in different provinces if they so choose.

However, the miners gathered inside the mine and refused to leave, saying their protest would continue until a solution was found.

General Mine Workers Union (GMİS) Armutçuk district head İsa Mutlu said the problem between the company and the TTK would not be solved for at least six months.
Mutlu has expressed the union’s support for the miners’ protest, calling on authorities to intervene and find a solution.

The miners working during the night shift will join the protest when they arrive and 600 people will continue to keep themselves locked underground, he added.

İbrahim Ergün, one of the laid off miners, said they knew the company would continue to fire people.

The mining industry has become a hot topic in Turkey amid debates about working conditions, after the country was shaken by two mining disasters in 2014.  

A total of 301 coal miners were killed in a disaster in the western town of Soma in the Manisa province on May 13, the worst industrial accident in Turkey’s history.

Six months later, 18 miners were killed after being trapped inside the galleries of a mine in Central Anatolia after an underground flood.