190 miners in Turkey continue hunger strike for unpaid wages and benefits

Photo: Canva

Coal miners working in a mine belonging to Doruk Madencilik in the western Turkish province of Eskişehir have been on an underground hunger strike since Thursday, demanding unpaid wages and benefits, Turkish Minute reported.

Seven of the 190 miners who went on a hunger strike have been hospitalized.

The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) has transferred the mine to Yıldızlar Holding subsidiary Doruk Madencilik, prompting miners to claim that their rights have not been respected.

Union leaders told local media that the 190 miners locked themselves underground as part of their protest. The miners began their hunger strike after a six-day sit-in failed to produce results.

According to the Artı Gerçek news website, the miners’ families are currently in Ankara to negotiate with company officials.

“We have received only half of our wages, and our insurance is incomplete. We are not getting what is due us,” Kamil Tanrıseven, one of the miners, said in describing the miners’ complaints to Artı Gerçek.

Talih Kocabıyık, president of the Turkish Miners’ Union in Central Anatolia, told Artı Gerçek that the strike would continue until their demands are met.

“Since 2016, our collective bargaining rights have not been respected,” he said, adding that the TMSF’s transfer of the mine to Doruk Madencilik was the last straw.

Selim Arslan, secretary of the Turkish Miners Union in Central Anatolia, told the Gazete Duvar news website that 250 workers had been laid off, none of whom had been paid severance pay in the nine months since the layoffs.

Kocabıyık told the Bianet news website that the TMSF had promised that no rights would be lost in the sale but failed to keep that promise. “When this company came, none of our 250 colleagues received their severance pay,” he said, adding that the average demand of the employees amounted to 450,000 lira each.

A yearly report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on labor rights reveals that Turkey is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people. According to the Brussels-based ITUC, workers’ freedoms and rights continued to be denied with police crackdowns on protests in Turkey in 2022.

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