Unions call nationwide strike as Turkey coal mine death toll reaches 282

14 May 2014 (Last Updated May 14th, 2014 18:30)

Four labour unions in Turkey have called for a nationwide strike to protest against the Turkish mine disaster on Tuesday, which has so far claimed 282 lives.

Four labour unions in Turkey have called for a nationwide strike to protest against the Turkish mine disaster on Tuesday, which has so far claimed 282 lives.

According to union officials, the Soma mine was previously under state control but was leased to a private firm in 2005, which allegedly followed poor safety standards making working conditions at the mine more dangerous.

Union members were quoted by Reuters as saying that hundreds of their worker brothers in Soma have been left to die from the very start, by being forced to work in brutal production processes in order to achieve maximum profits.

"We call on the working-class, labourers and friends of labourers to stand up for our brothers in Soma," union members said.

The disaster has sparked angry protests against the government in several cities around the country, including the capital city of Ankara, where about 800 protesters were prevented from marching to the Energy Ministry by the police, who fired tear gas and water cannons into the crowd.

"We call on the working-class, labourers and friends of labourers to stand up for our brothers in Soma." 

According to the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey head Arzu Cerkezoglu, several major groups of unions had agreed to a one-day strike.

The Public Workers Unions Confederation was quoted by the BBC as saying that: "Those who pursue privatisation... policies, who threaten workers' lives to reduce cost... are the culprits of the Soma massacre and they must be held accountable."

Around 787 workers were working in the mine when an explosion caused the pit to collapse.

According to government officials, 363 miners were rescued in the hours after the explosion, but no survivors have been brought out since dawn on Wednesday.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said around 150 miners are still missing.

The rescue operation was briefly hampered on Wednesday as the fire inside the mine made it difficult for the rescue crew to retrieve bodies.

Yildiz said the ventilation systems which pumped fresh air into the mine had been relocated and that the teams were getting ready to go back inside.

At almost 40 hours after the explosion, government and rescue workers do not expect to recover any more survivors from the mine.

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