On 13 May 2014 an explosion occurred at a coal mine in Soma, Turkey. According to official statements this was caused by faulty electrical equipment and resulted in 298 people losing their lives.
IFSW Europe e.V. wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of the victims of this disaster and to all Turkish citizens who are trying to come to terms with this terrible tragedy.
Emergencies such as this give rise to unimaginable trauma for people directly affected who may be simultaneously grieving over the loss of loved ones and grappling with the numerous practical problems that arise from such tragic situations.
Social workers play a key role in supporting people who, for whatever reason, require professional support in addition to that provided by family and friends in the aftermath of disasters and IFSW Europe e.V. also wishes to express solidarity with our colleagues in the Turkish Association of Social Workers who are actively contributing to the emergency services being provided in Soma and the surrounding area.
Two other issues arise from this particular tragedy for us as social workers. We are concerned to ensure that all citizens’ fundamental rights are respected and these include occupational safety and health in the workplace, as required by international human rights conventions. Initial information emerging from the Soma coal mine explosion suggests that there may have been serious violations of occupational safety and health standards.
We therefore call on all relevant state institutions, in particular the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, to investigate this tragedy transparently and start to cooperate with related trade unions and NGO’s to develop a more effective structure to ensure that employers are compelled to take all possible action to assess the risks faced by their employees and minimize the possibility of accidents of this type occurring.
IFSW Europe e.V is gravely concerned over the apparent link between the violation of labour safety and health and neo-liberal policies favouring private rather than public sector developments and and sub-contraction in all sectors which are having a negative effect on human rights in work places.
We are also concerned to ensure that Turkish citizens’ fundamental right to express their opinions freely is upheld by local and national authorities.
IFSW Europe e.V will keep the communication with our colleagues in Turkey who are contributing to the well being of most disadvantaged groups in society.