CFMEU joins international call for tightening mine safety following mining disaster in Turkey

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Image credit: flickr User: phil

Australian mineworkers have called for action on safety from authorities following the horrific mining disaster that shocked Turkey and the world — in which at least 274 Turkish mineworkers lost their lives, while 100 are still missing.

Image credit: flickr User: phil
Image credit: flickr User: phil

The disaster occurred after a power transformer blew up during shift change at about 12.30 GMT on Tuesday, sparking a choking fire deep inside the coal mine in Soma, around 250 km (155 miles) south of Istanbul.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has publicly backed the international call for the Turkish Government to take immediate and definite action to tighten mine safety in the country, claiming that the tragedy is “indicative of a failure of government to step in and hold the industry to account on safety and reflects a worldwide problem.”

“This horrifying accident is the ghastly result of sloppy safety practices. But unfortunately, inadequate safety regulation in mining is not just a problem in Turkey. It’s disgraceful that governments need to be dragged kicking and screaming into legislating greater protection for their workers,” said Andrew Vickers, CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary and Chair of the IndustriALL Global Union’s Mining Division.

According to the news release by CFMEU, global union IndustriALL has written urgently to the Turkish Prime Minister urging him to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines that recognises the particular dangers facing mineworkers.

USA, Germany and South Africa have already ratified ILO Convention 176, but Turkey, and surprisingly, Australia are yet to become signatories.

“It’s a significant convention that prioritises supervision, inspection and reporting. In Australia, decades of union campaigning have meant that we have safety standards in mining recognised as the best in the world,” said Mr Vickers.

“But it’s a bad look when wealthy countries like Australia disregard these agreements as it devalues them in the eyes of the international community.”