At least 425 workers died in occupational accidents in first quarter of 2024: İSİG

Turkey recorded at least 425 deaths in work-related accidents in the first quarter of this year, the BirGün newspaper reported on Monday, citing the Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG).

According to İSİG, at least 115 died in March, in addition to 149 in February and 161 in January.

The deaths included 29 people who were killed during renovations being carried out at an İstanbul nightclub; workers employed at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant who died of meningitis; nine workers trapped under the sand after a landslide at a gold mine in Erzincan; and the crew of a cargo ship that sank in the Marmara Sea in February.

At least 16 of the workers were minors, four of them in the 11-14 age group, the report said.

Most of the fatal workplace accidents occurred in the construction sector, which accounted for 25 percent of the incidents, followed by transportation with 14 percent and agriculture with 9 percent.

People have been suffering from lax work safety standards for decades in Turkey, where workplace accidents are nearly a daily occurrence. In the worst work-related accident in the country’s history, 301 miners lost their lives in an explosion in Manisa’s Soma district in May 2014.

According to İSİG, more than 30,000 work-related accidents have taken place since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November 2002.

İSİG General Coordinator Murat Çakır had earlier said the reason for the record number of fatalities in work-related accidents has to do with the policies of the AKP, which he said aim to turn Turkey into a source of cheap labor for Europe.

According to Çakır, workers feel obliged to work under unsafe conditions fearing that they will become jobless and unable to support their families.

İSİG began to record occupational fatalities in 2011. The platform also records the number of workers who died due to the lack of work safety in past years in addition to campaigning for stricter measures to maintain safety in workplaces.

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 relentlessly denied with police crackdowns on protests in Turkey in 2022. 

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