Miners working for Uyar Madencilik mining company, in one of the coal mines around the town of Soma, Manisa province, western Turkey, who tried to march on the capital city Ankara, were stopped by gendarmerie and police. To express their dissatisfaction, they held a protest in front of the district administration building in Soma. One of the miners told reporters: “We are all witnessing the state mobilizing all its forces only against workers seeking their rights. At the same time, the head of the company, Azim Uyar, is protected by the government, and is fiercely defended by it.”
The miners from the town of Ermenek, southern Turkey, working in the Cenne and Seba mines, who have not received their salaries for a year, and their colleagues from the town of Soma, western Turkey, working for Uyar Madencilik, who have not received their compensations for 8 years for accidents at work, continue to fight for their labor and social rights.
On October 19, workers whose marches to the capital city Ankara, were stopped by gendarmerie and police staged protests in front of the Soma district administration building and on the square in the town of Guneyurt, Karaman province, southern Turkey.
During the protest in front of the district administration building in the town of Soma, the miners said: “Stop protecting the capitalists, give the miners their rights!”
The miners said they would not return home until their demands were accepted, and under the blockade of the police and gendarmerie, the workers made the following address to the public:
“We are 748 miners and their families who worked for Uyar Madencilik. For 14 years we have not been able to take compensation for deaths at work and accidents at work. For 8 years, when the mine was closed, we have not been able to take our wages for the length of service, compensations for early termination of our employment contracts, and our due salaries. To this day, we have toured all the institutions, we have done everything that we can to resolve our case.
During these years we met with the chairmen of the district and provincial councils of all political parties, with the district governor, with the governor of the province, with MPs, with the chairmen of the parliamentary parties, with the General Directorate of Coal Mines in Turkey, with the Ministry of Energy, with the Minister of Labor, with the Prime Minister. For all these 8 years no steps have been taken to resolve our case. Promises were made that were not kept. All legal channels through courts etc. did not give any result.
In July, a package of laws was passed paving the way for 3,500 miners working in the mines granted under the concession of Soma Kömürleri A.Ş (Soma Coal Mining JSC) to receive their compensation. But we the workers from Uyar Madencilik were left out of this package of laws. We ask you why?
While for the owners of companies who have amassed wealth by plundering what is due to the work of miners, for the capitalists who, despite their crimes, have not been convicted, new and new tax vacations of hundreds of billions of liras are accepted, given rewards, subsidies, grants, and new facilities are being adopted for granting concessions, absolutely nothing is being done for the benefit of us the workers.
We are all witnessing the state demonstrating its power only to workers fighting for their rights. At the same time, the head of Uyar Madencilik, Azim Uyar, was “carried on their arms” and patronized by the government, and that was not enough, but he was given two more coal mines on concessions. Today, when we want to march to demand our rights, what we are facing are bans, police blockades, arrests, and pepper spray.
We are no longer afraid. For years we worked deep underground, in mines where no rules for safety and health of workers were applied. We have lost our lungs, we have lost our eyes, arms, and legs in work accidents, we have lost our colleagues and friends in workplace murders. We have been fighting hunger for years, we are no longer afraid.
Stop protecting the capitalists, give the miners what they deserve. We declare once again that until our demands are accepted, we will not go home.
We are here, we are standing in front of you, we are on the streets, and we are on alert. Do not think that attacking our march on Ankara will make us give up. We will start from here, and digging the tunnel we will reach Ankara.
The dissatisfaction of the miners found a wide response on social networks
Meanwhile, Kamil Kartal, an organizational specialist at the Independent Trade Union of Miners (Bağımsız Maden – İş), who was detained and later released by police, expressed his dissatisfaction, which was widely commented on social media.
In a video shared on social media, he said the following:
“As if we are criminals, as we have committed thefts, we have behaved arrogantly, as if we are scoundrels, now they are trying to demand an account from us. That is, those who have to seek an account, from those who have done all this, do not seek an account from them, but from us. But in fact, everyone knows that we are right.
The state, which cannot cope with a single capitalist, is now demonstrating its power to us. We declare once again from here. Do not demonstrate the power of the state in front of us! The state should not look for an account, from those who are forced to make a living with sweat on their foreheads in the depths of the earth, from those who were blinded, mutilated, whose lungs were worn out! Right?! Is that so, Mr. Commander ?!
For years, pieces of our colleagues’ bodies were torn from that mine. You’re going to show us your power now, aren’t you? And we will be afraid of this force, won’t we? We swear we are not afraid of you! ”
You can watch the video from this link: