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Unions demand justice for 42 miners killed in Turkey

26 January, 2023The international union movement is calling for justice for the 42 miners who lost their lives in an explosion on 14 October, 2202, in Turkey’s Amasra district. Four mine workers are still in hospital in Istanbul , two of them in intensive care. 

In a joint mission to the region, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan and IndustriAll Europe general secretary Luc Triangle met with branch and local trade union representatives. 

A fire is still raging underground, and efforts are made to extinguish it and restart coal production. IndustriALL Global and Europe met with the new mine management to discuss the situation; workers and the people of Amasra want the mine to re-open and for life to return to normal.

They also met with the mayor of Amasra for a better understanding of what assistance is put in place for the families of the killed miners.

Özkan and Triangle visited the family of one the killed miners, Ridvan Acet, and conveyed the condolences of both organizations.

“It is the duty of the trade union movement to commemorate our lost fellow miners and to protect their rights. We came here to show our solidarity and express our readiness to work together to prevent future accidents. We will do our best to ensure that mine workers can work in healthy and safe conditions,”

said Kemal Özkan.

Public opinion in Turkey is that the explosion “was not an accident, but a homicide”. A special inquiry commission has visited the region and is expected to publish a report in the coming days.

The prosecutor is asking for between 16 months to 1,062 years for two crimes for the 19 suspects, four of whom are imprisoned, including the manager of the mine. The charge is "causing death and injury to more than one person by conscious negligence."  

In the indictment, the prosecutor revealed that a series of omissions caused the explosion. It also states that management knew that the chimney ventilator was insufficiently cleaned but took no precautions, which led to the explosion.

The indictment also states that the methane gas values exceeded the 1 per cent warning level 85 times, and 1.5 per cent warning level five times. The carbon monoxide values exceeded the 25 ppm warning level 47 times and the 50 ppm warning level 13 times. 

 “We are here to join the demand for justice. The International and European union movement, public opinion and the families of victims want to know why these 42 miners were killed. We will continue to follow this case closely. Every mine worker has the right to return home healthy and safe,”

said Luc Triangle.

IndustriALL Global and IndustriAll Europe also met with the representative union in the mine, General Mine Workes’ Union (Genel Maden-Is), and vowed to continue to monitor the judiciary process and organize joint activities with the union on health and safety, as well as a just transition for the coal production sector.