Retired miners paid paltry pensions, return to mines to feed families

Retired miners say their pensions are grossly insufficient and that they cannot afford to undergo the treatment they need to cure diseases they developed in the mines. Some even return to the mines to make a living.

Osman Çaklı / DUVAR 

Miners in Turkey receive a pension of around 2,500-3,000 Turkish liras and many suffer diseases they developed during their working life including lung diseases, vision and hearing impairments.

A doctor which spoke to Gazete Duvar on condition of anonymity said that mining is a profession that drastically shortens one’s life expectancy. For instance, miners often develop lung diseases due to their coal-laden and dusty working environments.

Tinnitus and joint pains are also frequent because of the loud noise and the narrow spaces in which miners operate.

One of the frequent lung diseases miners develop is pneumoconiosis, which requires many years of treatment and observation and shortens one’s life expectancy due to a low oxygen intake.

Çetin Erkalkan is one of those retired miners. He suffers from a lumbar hernia, vision and hearing impairments. A father of three, Erkalkan took out a loan to buy a house, which he still pays. With his net salary of 2,500 Turkish liras, he cannot meet his basic needs, let alone pay for medical treatment.

As his retirement pension was insufficient, Erkalkan sought work in the mines once again. But his quest was declined due to his old age. “Some of my friends have returned to the mines after retiring,” he said.

Adem Dadaklı is one. A father of three like Erkalkan, Dadaklı retired in 2018 only to return to the mines. “I receive a pension of 3,180 TL. We are a family of five and I have a monthly loan of 2,625 TL to pay for my house. That’s why I went underground again.”

What is more, Dadaklı suffered an incident in the mine during which he broke his nose. “I have trouble breathing but I cannot get surgery because of my financial situation,” he said.