Mine workers launched a resistance against mass dismissals in the northern Turkish district of Amasra. soL News talked with the two workers who climbed up a high tower to protest the unlawful dismissals.
Operating in various sectors like automotive, construction and energy, Turkey’s industrial conglomerate Hattat Holding has fired at least 870 workers since May 29, 2018. Finally, the two workers, Serdar Aslan and Bülent Çelik, decided to launch a protest on October 5 in the name of their 209 co-workers who were sacked on September 23. They climbed up a 65-meter-tall tower at the mining field to raise the voice of the resistance.
Talking to soL, one of the resisting workers said, “We have unpaid salaries and compensations for two months, we want them to be paid. We have been suffering for two months, we are in resistance”
Declaring that they will continue to resist until they get their dues, the resisting worker told soL, “We have some attempts at ministerial and other levels. We have achieved no result yet, but we will continue until we get it. We are together with our friends at the top of the tower. We believe that we will get our dues after this action.”
MESSAGE FROM THE TOWER: ‘PUSH HAS COME TO SHOVE’
Serdar Aslan, the protesting worker at the top of the tower, called his workers. “We will continue to stand firm until we get our dues to the last penny. We are here until we get our dues from those guys. We are not here only for ourselves, but for the rights of the workers inside. We have let them exploit our rights until today, but not anymore, the push has come to shove,” he said.
While the two workers’ protest was continuing at the top of the mining tower, their co-workers escorted them and chanted slogans in the field: “We’re the workers, we’re the right ones, we shall win!”
Owning a turnover around $350 million, Hattat Holding purchased the coalfield in the northern district of Amasra from Turkey’s hard coal institution in 2005 in exchange for royalty-lease charges to operating the field for 20 years. Although the coal mining works should have been launched within the three years following 2005, the production was hindered under the pretext of some legal and infrastructural handicaps.
As the holding is said to have invested $400 million for mining activities, no coal mining work has been carried out in practice despite 12 years passed following the lease agreement. It is claimed that coal-mining activities are to start in 2019. It seems that an important mining field has remained inactive for long years since no proper procedures were set during the privatization process of the field.
As Turkey’s high dependence on oil, natural gas and coal imports plays a major role in the country’s huge current account deficit, the Turkish coal workers in the region, who are forced to work under severe exploitative conditions, suffer from unplanned economic programs. Experts argue that the mining field should be nationalized and operated in favour of public benefits.