We don’t want to die while working!


Last Friday, 18 workers in the Ermenek district of Karaman province in central Turkey became trapped in a mine owned by Has Şekerler Mining, because of a flood.

The rescue operation is still taking place but so far 11 dead bodies have been recovered. It is unlikely that the seven miners who remain missing will be brought out alive.

Mines have become a symbol of the scourge of subcontracting, precarious and non-unionised work in Turkey.

The employers idea of health and safety in the mines is telling workers: “If you run away, you will be safe.”

How many more lives will be taken by the capital which built a precarious working environment without any sort of moral values or norms?

In Turkey, the occupational health and safety system has collapsed.

The government is attempting to make some amendments but this is just cosmetic, for this is the same government that is mainly responsible for these murders.

Workplace accidents are seen as mere obstacles on the road to the accumulation of capital, allowing those in power to blame workers for not having a "culture of safety".

After massacre in Soma, where more than 300 miners lost their lives, government officials failed to authorise an investigation against officials of TKI (The General Directorate of Turkish Coal Enterprises) which is the real owner of the mine – instead, today they blame workers.

The bitter reality is reflected in the inspection reports.

According to a report published in 2011 by the State Supervisory Council, (DDK)widespread subcontracting, long working hours insufficient ventilation or safety equipment are just some of the endemic problems identified. But still the deaths continue.

Here at DISK, our position is that occupational murders will continue until our collapsed health and safety system is fixed. We are determined to turn occupational health and safety in to one of our main areas of struggle and organising.

During recent talks between the Turkish government and ILO about the mining sector in Turkey, our confederation expressed what needs to be done in order to stem the tide of workplace deaths.

The basis of the problem is precarious working conditions like subcontracting and the royalty system.

This system of death and exploitation has to be ended in all sectors – starting with the mines.

An independent and democratic institution has to be established with the participation of trade unions, professional chambers and universities.

Barriers against trade union organising such as thresholds and prohibitions have to be lifted.
Workers can only resist “work to death” impositions by organising. And those responsible for these worker massacres must be held responsible.

Enough is enough! The subcontracting system must end immediately and all the mines must be run by public institutions. We don’t want to die while working!


The original version of the article was first published on the DISK website.