Turkey’s four biggest unions were likely to hold a one-day protest strike on Thursday as anger over the country’s worst mining accident mounts, with 282 workers confirmed dead and scores still trapped underground, reports AFP.
The unions said workers’ lives were being put at risk to cut costs, and demanded that those responsible for the collapse of a coal mine in the western town of Soma in Manisa province be brought to account. “Hundreds of our workers have been left to die from the very beginning by being forced to work in cruel production processes to achieve maximum profits,” they said in a joint statement, calling on people to wear black.
“We call on the working class and friends of labourers to stand up for our brothers in Soma.” Anger at the disaster has swept across Turkey, where mining accidents are a frequent occurrence. Yesterday, thousands of protestors clashed with police in Ankara and Istanbul, accusing the government and mining industry of negligence.
The prosecutor’s office in Soma has launched an investigation into the cause of the disaster, which has added to the pressure on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The premier has rejected claims of government culpability, saying that “such accidents happen”. In an apparent attempt to downplay the disaster, he compared it disaster to other mining disasters elsewhere, saying that “204 people died in the UK in 1862 and 361 people in 1864”.