KEİG Platform Press Release
May 2014


A country that ranks third in the world in terms of deadly work “accident” and the rate of the deadly work accidents are seven times higher than the EU averages [1]; over two millions of subcontracted workers including the unregistered ones; a prime minister who says that “there’s death in the nature of mining” [2]; 301 workers murdered, according to the official records… A horrible allegation that death toll is much more higher but it is withheld from the public…

Even though this allegation was denied by the authorities, one has every right to be doubtful due the fact that the outbreak of the late workers’ families was crushed brutally by the security forces, the people of Soma, the people who went to Soma, and the lawyers and board of the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) in Soma were detained brutally [3] and all kinds of protests were banned until further notice. We are all experiencing an eclipse of reason for days.

Allegations versus the naked truth: Subcontracted work kills. Subcontract system that workers work without rules and security means that work life becomes totally provisional.

Not royalty, but hidden subcontract system!

Soma Coal Enterprise is a subcontractor of Turkey Coal Enterprise (TKİ). In other words, it operates on behalf of TKİ and pays to it at the rate of coal as agreed upon the contract between these two enterprises. This practice which is called royalty is in fact a “hidden” subcontract system.

Certain practices (such as hourly rate or piece rate) which prolongs working hours and “provides productivity” are rapidly consolidated. Besides, fertile lands for growing beet, tobacco, cotton become arid with the ecological destruction, just like Soma; agricultural supports are withdrawn; agricultural producers are forced to be indebted through bank loans and dispossessed; all these constitutethe resource of cheap labor.All the workers who are handed the microphone in all TV programs about the massacre said that they had to work in the mines in which their relatives died, because there was no other job opportunity left in the region and they were indebted.

Although subcontracted work has always been a prevalent form of work in Turkey, it was given a legal base under the name of “subcontractor” with the Work Law that was legislated by AKP and was expanded rapidly [4]. Now, subcontracted work started to become the norm not only in the private sector, but also in municipalities and public institutions. As we witnessed during the discussions over “Women Employment Package”, under the pretext of increasing women employment, it is aimed to render the labor market precarious through the abolishment of the severance pay, authorization of private employment offices agencies to rent workers, generalizing subcontract system

Negligence and lack of inspection lead to workplace murders!

Since the services of workplace doctor and work safety experts which are essential for workers’ health and safety are bought from Common Health and Safety Units (OSGB), the system of health and safety of workers became marketable and subcontracted and that means lack of inspection [5]. This workplace massacre which happened in a mine that was described as first class by the government authorities proves the claim that “the audits are done superficially and by informing the employees in advance.” Neoliberal economy mentality which is based on the logic of more and more profit increases profit by reducing labor and technology costsand this formula is normalized through the laws. Subcontract system does not only brings about the cost of work, but also sets obstacles for labor force to get organized against these practices. That is why the effort to put the blame of Soma massacre on fate is not surprising.

The state is the principal responsible for the massacre in Soma, not only because of the precautions it did not take in the production process of TKİ, but also because of the (lack of) inspections that are insufficient and legitimize subcontract system. The fact that a motion about workplace accidents dated back October 2013 took seven months to be put on the assembly’s agenda, and it was rejected by the votes of AKP deputies while other three parties signed it [6] demonstrates once again the responsibility of the government.

Other responsible party in this massacre are the employers who did not take the necessary precautions. Alp Gürkan, owner of the Soma Holding, brags about “producing the cost of coal for 23.80 dollars while TKİ produces the coal for 140 dollars” in an interview [7]; this is one of the clearest manifestations of the fact that private sector declines its costs at the risk of health and safety of the workers and humanely working conditions.

In addition to the legal changes, the new law revisions allow the main works to be given to subcontracts and it is aimed by this to completely clear the way for employment without rules, security and humane conditions.
Workplace accidents mostly take place in metal goods production; but the deaths mostly occur in construction sector and mining respectively [8]. Furthermore, we do not have any data on the deaths, injuries and/or occupational diseases in the lines of work in which labor is invisible and the workplace is house, such as house-based work and housekeeping.
Let the liable ones be punished, let the workplace massacres be ended!

Work accidents are the results of preventable mistakes/negligence. The chain of negligence in Soma is the common responsibility of the state with its subcontract and insecurity policies and the employers whose main motivation is the cost concerns.

* Everyone that is responsible must be punished.

* Relatives of the late workers and survivors of the Soma massacre must be paid their compensations.

* Working in the mines should no longer be indispensable; other work fields must be provided.

* Subcontract system which reinforces unorganized, insecure, unsafe working conditions must immediately be abolished.

* “If you want a job, you should be grateful regardless the conditions” policy, as it is imposed to women as well, must be ended; humanely development approach should be grounded on.

21st May 2014

[1] http://www.bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/122483-turkiye-olumlu-is-kazalarinda-dunya-ucuncusu
[4] http://www.sendika.org/2014/05/taseron-manyakliginin-fitratinda-olum-var-can-safak/
[7] http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/soma_holding_komur_maliyetini_nasil_dusurdu-1192019

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