DOIU – Soma — accident, or reflection of mentality?

Soma — accident, or reflection of mentality?Some lexicons define an accident as “an event that has taken place by mistake and led to negative consequences.” Some others include the phrase, “a misfortunate event that has led to loss of life and property.

” Some use the words “unexpected, unintended, unplanned and unnecessary” to describe accidents. However, most definitions in work safety manuals add the clause, “If the conditions leading to an accident are discovered beforehand and the necessary precautions are taken, the damage can be minimized or the accident prevented.

”A similar view can be seen in a Supreme Court of Appeals verdict overturning a 2009 court ruling that cleared a mine owner of responsibility in a work accident. The 2009 ruling had argued that the accident was “inevitable.

” The verdict of the 10th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals is exemplary: “Inevitability is a concept that explains circumstances when damage has been incurred despite all precautions taken according to the scientific and technical capabilities available at the time of the incident. It is an undeniable fact that the possibility of an accident can be totally eliminated if the employer allows the victim of the accident to utilize all means and instruments that are vital for job safety.

”According to 2010 data, Turkey stands out in terms of fatal mine accidents among other mining nations. China and the US are the two biggest coal mining countries in the world.

Yet the number of deaths in Chinese coal mine accidents is 127 per million tons. In the US it is 002, whereas it is 722 in Turkey.

More than 48,000 people work in the Turkish mining industry. In the past 18 years 3,098 laborers lost their lives in accidents.

In the Soma district, the site of the recent accident, there were 5,000 accidents reported in 2013. Like many of Turkey’s state-run enterprises, coal mines have been privatized or their extraction rights granted to private entrepreneurs in recent years.

The technology has not changed (traditional, labor-intensive digging methods are still used), and workers have been pressured to produce more, with little incentive to follow or investment in safety measures. The drive for profit has come at the cost of safety.

The other reason for the lack of proper safety standards and inspections is the intimidation of labor unions and their dwindling power In recent years, the government has been rather antagonistic toward labor unions and supported businesses in fending off unions in their workplaces. As a consequence, official figures from the Social Security Institution (SGK) in 2011 reveal that of Turkey’s 10,314,095 registered workers, only 922,188 are unionized.

The rate of unionization in Turkey is 894 percent. According to figures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the number of workers in the private sector benefitting from labor unions is 370,000.

This makes the rate of unionization in the private sector a dismal 35 percent. This is lower that the rate during the military coup eras and even the 1950s.

Does this mean that we love money more than human beings? I’m afraid that may be the case, given the fact that the Turkish government has systematically avoided signing the International Labour Organization (ILO) Safety and Health in Mines Convention, 1995 (No. 176), while a number of nations we believe to be far behind us — like Albania, Armenia and Zambia — have signed it.

Although unions are guarantees of democratic participation and defend the rights and safety of workers, their decline has led employers to use subcontracted laborers who work low-paying jobs with little security.There is no excuse for curtailing labor unions, because they do not defend the White Turks or the “parallel state.

” They represent and defend the rights of the poor and the underprivileged. If politicians really loved and respected the working people of this country, they would have seen to it that fireproof safe rooms were built in mines.

Safety inspections would have been taken seriously. Given these facts, the argument that “the EU is against our accession because of our religion and culture” seems obtuse.

Why don’t we ask why we don’t adopt the safety standards of the countries from which we take science and technology?The critical question is how can we trust the nuclear projects that are being so eagerly ushered in, given our lack of safety standards for even the most backward technologies? A nuclear accident would cause lasting damage for generations to come, besides the natural devastation. I personally declare my opposition to nuclear energy while there are plenty of natural resources to exploit in our country — like the wind and the sun.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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