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Why is mining in Turkey so dangerous?

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing growing criticism over the country's worst mining disaster.

Last updated: 15 May 2014 22:09
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Four Turkish labour unions have called for a national one-day strike on Thursday in protest against the country's worst industrial disaster, which has killed at least 282 people in a coal mine in western Turkey.

Representing workers in a range of industries, the unions are furious over what they say are poor safety standards since the formerly state-run mine in Soma was privatized.
 
Opponents blamed Erdogan's government for privatizing the country's mines and ignoring repeated warnings about their safety. Turkey's rapid growth over the past decade has seen a construction boom and a scramble to meet soaring energy demand. 
 
The International Labour Organisation, ILO, ranked the European Union candidate nation as third worst in the world for worker deaths in 2012. The Turkish government has failed to ratify the ILO's convention on mines.
 
The mine's operator, Soma Komur Isletmeleri, defended its working practices, saying its staff were unionised and all had insurance and social security benefits, and that its site was inspected every six months.
 
So, why is so much blame directed at the government? And could this disaster have been averted?
 
Presenter: Mike Hanna
 
Guests:
 
Ercan Akkaya is one of the union organisers who has been on strike. He represents the Education and Science Union and is also a political science researcher at Bogazici University in Istanbul.
 
Ilter Turan is a Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Istanbul Bilgi University.
 
Huseyin Ekrem is a research associate at Ozyegin University who wrote a report two years ago, criticising the conditions at the coal mines in Turkey.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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