Cihan Başakçıoğu - Osman Çaklı / DUVAR
Turkey's largest mining union Maden-İş blasted miners who are members of the organization and who are striking for severance pay as "provocateurs."
Miners from the Soma mine in the province of Manisa and the Ermenek mine in the province of Karaman have embarked upon a march to Ankara in protest of being denied salaries and severance pay.
“Their sole purpose is to drive the country into turmoil via the sensitivities surrounding Soma. But no one should expect responses from us that will make it difficult for the country and for the mine laborer. Absolutely do not expect politics to be conducted on the backs of the worker,” said Mine Workers Union of Turkey chairman Nurettin Akçul.Turkish miners relaunch protest march: We yell because we're angry, hungry!
Akçul's statements referenced the the 2014 explosion in Soma's Eynez mine, which claimed the lives of 301 miners, resulting in the worst job site disaster in the history of the Turkish Republic.
Some miners have complained of not receiving severance pay for as long as eight years, while the Ermenek miners have not received their regular salaries for over a year.
Başaran Aksu from the Independent Miner's Labor Union criticized Maden-İş for its complicity in the circumstances that led to the 2014 disaster.
“This union is the union of the 301 workers that died in the Eynez massacre. Not for a single day did it call upon workers to refrain from working, or object when the bosses were forcing laborers into production while ignoring occupational safety and health,” Aksu said, adding that the Mine Workers Union of Turkey was afraid that miners were going to switch over to his union.
“We stand by all of the miners in this country and we are proud to do so. They [the union] are the ones that are the provocateurs. Bring it on, have them face the Soma miners. We are ready to debate with them on any platform,” Aksu said.
Miner İdris Sarıkaya lost one of his legs in a job site accident and says that he has still not been paid severance.
“As a 14-year miner who is 48 percent disabled, what benefits have I received so far? Did they come one day to visit, did they cover any of my health expenses? They haven't done so nor have they been helpful. I have a friend who lost his eyes in the same accident, they didn't help him either. We are not provocateurs,” Sarıkaya said.
“I condemn [Akçul's] statement. Does the union defend the worker or the boss? They are defending the boss. As a person who has been sentenced to a life in bed for years and who will be disabled for life, I haven't seen any benefits from this union,” Sarıkaya said.Turkish gov't promises to solve protesting miners' problems within 10 days