News Release

Turkey Protests ‘Avoidable’ Mine Deaths

USA Today reports today: “Protests erupted across [Turkey] and angry relatives of the more than 200 victims of a mine disaster booed Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan when he visited the mine and told them that mine accidents are ‘usual things.’

“In the capital Ankara, police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a group of students who tried to march on the Energy Ministry in protest of poor mine safety. Protests also broke out in front of the offices of the mining company, Soma Holding, in Soma and near Taksim Square in Istanbul – the center of anti-government protests last year.”

KEMAL OZKAN, kozkan at industriall-union.org, @IndustriALL_GU
TOM GRINTER, tgrinter at industriall-union.org
Ozkan is assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. Grinter is communications officer with IndustriALL. In a statement, the union said, “Belonging to a private company, the mine is organized by IndustriALL’s affiliate Maden-İş, Mineworkers’ Union of Turkey. Around 800 miners were in and around the mine when an electrical fault triggered a transformer to explode causing a large fire around noon time on Tuesday 13 May. The fire caused a power cut in the mine rendering mine cages unusable and the majority of workers trapped 2km underground and 4km from the exit. …

“Turkey’s record on mine safety is poor, and IndustriALL labels the deaths of mineworkers as carnage. Every death in a mine is avoidable and IndustriALL’s campaign for ratification of the ILO [International Labor Organization] Convention 176 will continue in Turkey and elsewhere. Pressure is already building on Turkey’s government, criticized for ignoring safety warnings while workers pay with their lives. …

“IndustriALL Global Union wrote today to Maden-İş: …

“Turkey has possibly the worst safety record in terms of mining accidents and explosions in Europe and the third worst one in the world. As recently as 7 January 2013, eight mine workers lost their lives in another mine-related accident, which the president of your sister organization Genel Maden-İş correctly labelled as ‘killing’ of mine workers.

“As a matter of urgency, IndustriALL Global Union calls upon the Turkish government to immediately ratify and implement ILO’s Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines to save the lives of mine workers. The ‘killing’ must stop. IndustriALL Global Union will do everything in its power to ensure that the Turkish government act responsibly and ratify Convention 176. We once again call upon the political authorities to take the lives of mineworkers seriously and to place it above profit.”