Turkish mine disaster: Unions take strike action, blaming ‘murderous’ lack of safety and privatisation

John Millington reports

May 15, 2014 · 3 min read

turkey-disaster

Turkish trade unions staged a one day strike on Thursday in protest at the Soma mine disaster which has left over 200 dead. An as yet unexplained explosion took the lives of 246 miners and around 700 may still be trapped underground.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the area but had his car attacked as hundreds of protesters and angry relatives besieged his car. Unions in Turkey have put the blame for the disaster at the feet of the mine owners and the government for privatising the industry, labelling them “murderers.”

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions in Turkey who took part in the one day stoppage called on people to wear black and demand answers. “It is a workplace murder, not an industrial accident,” a statement read. “Hundreds of our brothers working in Soma mines have been forced to work in inhuman production process in order to make maximum profit since the matter of promoting workers’ health and security measures are considered in accordance with the pros and cons of expenditures. It means they have been left for dead since the beginning.”

The Public Workers Confederation told the BBC: “Those who pursue privatisation… policies, who threaten workers’ lives to reduce cost… are the culprits of the Soma massacre and they must be held accountable.” Global union INDUSTRIALL demanded the government comply with basic International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards on health and safety to prevent further deaths in the future. “We once again call upon the political authorities to take the lives of mineworkers seriously and to place it above profit,” a statement read.

And the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), representing 90 million workers across the world, denounced the Turkish government and a “murderous lack of safety measures” leading to the deaths. They said: “The WFTU denounces the Government of Turkey and the companies exploiting the mines for their murderous lack of safety measures and demands the end of privatization of the people’s wealth, the natural resources, the modernization of the technology used in the mines, the immediate implementation of safety controls and the application of all necessary measures in all mines to protect the lives of the working people.

“The World Federation of Trade Unions expresses its condolences to the families and the loved ones of the victims and demands the immediate full compensation of the victims’ families and the injured workers.”

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