Workers occupy Turkish coal plant’s entrance, block road to oppose privatization
Yatağan plant workers blocked the road linking Muğla to Milas on Dec. 1. DHA PhotoA group of workers blocked a highway for over half an hour on Dec. 1, in protest at the imminent privatization of the Yatağan coal plant in the southwestern province of Muğla, a day after they began occupying the entrance of the facility.
Despite opposition from workers, a local energy company won the operating rights for the plant after outbidding its rivals last June.
However, the plant’s workers gave staged a number of protests to show their disagreement with the government’s decision, even holding a demonstration in front of the Energy Ministry in Ankara that was brutally dispersed by the police in May. Their actions began more than a year ago when plans to organize a tender for the privatization of the plant were made public.
Workers have intensified their protests ahead of the weekend’s handover at the plant, launching a "permanent action" to express their concerns on the labor conditions once the privatization is completed.
“We have been resisting for 442 days now. We are against the sale of this facility because privatization means the employment of subcontractors. We saw what happened then in Soma and Ermenek,” said Tes-İş union official Fatih Erçelik, referring to two recent mining disasters in Turkey.
Some 4,000 workers are employed at the plant, including 1,500 miners who extract coal in the galleries around the facility.