Miner's killed in Turkey

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Miner's killed in Turkey
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It's the reliable old "electrical fault". Over two-hundred-and-seventy miners killed already and it was an "electical fault". One electircal fault incapacitated the mine and killed the workers and some of the rescuers. And after Erdogan's special advisor was filmed kicking a protestor at Soma held down by the police, his boss made a speech which basically said, quite honestly, that you have to accept carnage in order that we mae profits and you have a job. Looking at the TV news last night it showed rescuers rushing in to the hole containing methane and carbon monoxide and unknown toxicities without any form of breathing apparatus - which the mine probably didn't have. The bravery and solidarity of the class against the murder and contempt of the bosses. WSWS reports that the price per ton of coal in Turkey has been reduced from $140 to $28.30 and this has been the story across the world. In the last ten years there have been major mining disasters in Chile, Columbia, Western Siberia, South Africa, Donetsk and Luhansk in east Ukraine, China, etc. There are frequent mining deaths in the USA and in Britaiin relaxed safety rules have resulted in an increase in mine accidents, injuries and deaths.

In Turkey the trade unions have been complicit with the bosses and the state in increasing productivity and reducing safety in the mines. This again is what the trade unions are doing everywhere. In the face of the "accident" some unions have called a 24-hour strike, others a three-minute strike and others no strike at all.

Explosions of anger have broken out over Turkey but beyond the immediate, this event could have the effect of galvanising the working class. The working class has already proved to be a serious brake on the slide that Turkey was taking towards war in Syria. The protests along the border towns, mainly populated by the working class, were both part of and fed into the major street protests across Turkey and its centres.

Is this one more capitalist disaster that is usually forgotten in a couple of weeks or could it be a force for the development of class struggle in this country?

Just a few notes: yesterday

Just a few notes: yesterday there's been demonstrations all over Turkey, attacked by the police violently. The insolent PM had gone to Soma where the massacre happened, and was protested by the families of the miners. He had to hide in a supermarket because of the protests.

In Ankara, Yatagan miners who were protesting in the city and some students supporting them occupied the HQs of Turk-Is, the main trade-union confederation, protesting about its decision to have 3 minute "strikes" in work-places for a week to protests. Eventually Turk-Is had to participate in the strike by the leftist unions today, which appears to have been the numerically strongest one-day strike in perhaps two decades.

Workers families in Soma protested President Abdullah Gul, the government, Soma municipality and the miners union.

I've read claims that the number of the dead is as high as 900.

Thanks for the sorry to say

Thanks for the sorry to say bad news Baboon and thanks to Leo for the update. 

In a press release the four unions state:

“Hundreds of our working colleagues at Soma were abandoned to their fate by being forced to work in the most merciless conditions in the pursuit of maximum profit, where workers' health and security was seen as entirely a matter of cost. Those promoting policies of privatisation and subcontracting, who cause the deaths of workers by cutting costs, those who encourage them and who exculpate previous mine disasters with their words and actions, and those who even privatise the safety supervision in the workplace with legislation, are responsible for the Soma massacre and must be held to account."

I'm not sure this is implying everything would be ok only if the mines were nationalised or simply partly. Either way it's a disgusting statement. As usual there is no criticism of capitalism just verbiage and questions of accountability! Amid rising class anger and willingness to take action it is dispicable the role that the unions are once again playing in dampening down and containing working class struggle. It should be plain for all to see once again the reactionary role of the unions.

The statement from the Four

The statement from the Four Unions (the Gang of Four) makes it sound as if the merciless working conditions imposed by capitalism  "in the pursuit of profit" has come as a sudden revelation  to them, the unions, whose only function today is to bargain down the price of wage labour and confuse the working class,  rather than  a confirmation of what has been going on for more than 200 years.  

And they have the cheek to call for 3 minute strikes! What the fuck!  This is a bit like the Armistice Day ritual when the bourgeois stop counting the money and stand still for a minute with crocodile tears to remind themselves of all the working class lives sacrificed needlessly to preserve their merciless rule and shameful system of exploitation. 


The only thing the Gang of Four have got right is that  those responsible for the massacre "must be held to account."  I hope that the working class are going to start holding those responsible for capitalism world wide to account internationally and pretty soon too.  This will include the unions,  and prime ministers seeking refuge in supermarkets.  How appropriate for the loud mouthed Erdogan and how degrading; and did he put on a white overall to disguise himself as a shelf packer?  They should have locked him in and turned off the air conditioners, or held him down and had him kicked.  After all, you have to accept carnage in order to make profits!  The PM's spokesman said so himself. 

the gang of four

Actually, I believe the gang of four here refers to DISK, KESK, TMMOB and TTB, the two leftist private and public sector workers confederations, the engineers and architect union and the doctors union which are also leftist. They waited for a long time to declare their one day of not working - until it had been declared that over 250 people had died I think since apparently they didn't consider anything less to be worthy of a strike - and eventually had to cave in to immense pressure. All sorts of political organizations are active in these unions, from social democratic and leftist Kemalists to the Kurdish nationalists, and every shade of Stalinism and Trotskyism in between.

It was Turk-Is who'd declared the 3-minute strikes. They had to declare they were going to participate in the strike by the four leftist unions later. Turk-Is is the biggest trade-union in Turkey and has more numbers than almost all the other unions in the country. Its administration is and has always been close to this government as it has been to previous governments. There is a left-nationalist opposition movement inside based on and controlling a number of strong unions within the confederation and there are lots of low-ranked leftist bureuacrats as well as leftist shop stewards within their ranks.. It was the sponteneous pressure of the workers themselves, however, which oblidged Turk-Is to participate in the strike on Thursday.

Scarface posts on Libcom

The government banned any demonstration in Manisa - the larger city where Soma is located- on Saturday after rising protests by the relatives of mine workers. Today, people from other cities who go to the area to express solidarity with families of dead workers and the people of Soma are checked by the police at the entrance to the city. Most of them are not allowed to enter the city. These kinds of encirclements, indeed, have been made mostly in the Kurdish populated regions in the history of Turkey. The government uses the argument that those outside comers are provocateurs. Indeed, the government is trying to surround the city in order to hide the brutality that they caused.

The city has been important for the Ottoman Empire. Most of the şehzades (the son of the Ottoman sultan) were trained there and became rulers of this city on their way to the dynasty which is made necessary by killing ones' brothers. The city has always been remembered with this Ottoman past by the rulers in Turkey. One of the most important figures of the ruling government Bülent Arınç is also from this city where they always march for remembering the Ottoman past. People of Manisa mainly vote for either Islamic ruling party or the nationalist parties such as kemalists or anti-communists. Anti-communist party (national movement party) won the last local elections. The city is, indeed, one of the largest industrial areas in this region and populated mainly by paid-workers. However, with this event, it seems that the “Turkish nationalism” is hurt to the quick.

Many lawyers went to the city after the incident. These leftist lawyers try to examine the incident by collecting some evidences from the witnesses. As the government tries hard to hide the real numbers of dead workers- I think it is no less than 500 miners as there are casual workers too and some argue even that Syrian refugees were among the dead miners including child workers. 36 of lawyers are taken under arrest today with no "rational justification".

Also, there are student occupations at the universities in İstanbul. Mining Department at Istanbul Technical University is occupied. Students along with other demands ask for the expulsion of a professor who is a consultant to the Soma Mining Inc-the running company. He appeared also on tv after the event saying that carbon monoxide poisoning is a “sweet dying” for miners. (I don’t understand why these students do not try to find this silly man and beat him).

I can say that ordinary people are very angry with the system during these days. Wherever you go, you can see working class people talking about politics in a different manner, questioning not only the government but the whole system. There is also a tendency expressed by those petty bourgeoisie people who are trying to normalize the situation as the prime minister Erdoğan call these miner deaths as a "fate" as Valerin has pointed out.


However, one point I need to make, this is not only about making profit. İt is more than that. Those people are obliged to go to the mine for living. Most of the workers or their families used to be farmers until to the 1980s. This company is working with Erdoğan and they are producing coal mainly for the working class people to be distributed "free of charge" by the local organs of the ruling party in return for votes in the elections. Since the 2003s, social transfer costs which are either in the form of direct or indirect has been on steady rise which also explains why the islamic oriented party holds the power.