Statement issued Oct. 19 by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for governor of Texas. A former coal miner, Kennedy was part of a Militant reporting team to Soma, Turkey, in 2014.
The methane gas explosion in the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises’ coal mine in the northern Black Sea coast town of Amasra, Turkey, underscores the fight of workers around the world to organize, unionize and use union power to fight together for workers control of safety and organization of production on the job. Our unions need the power to shut down production whenever danger to workers exists.
The Oct. 14 blast killed 41 out of the 110 miners working. Another 11 were injured; five with burns covering 65% or more of their bodies. It was the worst mine disaster in Turkey since 2014, when 301 miners were killed in a mine fire at the Eynez Coal Mine in Soma. I met miners there and helped get out the truth about how the bosses and government were responsible for their deaths.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Amasra, “We are people who believe in the plan of destiny. Such accidents will always happen.” He told miners’ families the same thing in Soma in 2014. “Accidents” are normal, he said, and “death is the destiny of coal miners.” But this isn’t destiny. No miner has to die!
The Amasra miners reported smelling gas inside the mine for days. One woman told Erdogan her brother told her, “They will blow us up here.” He described gas leaking weeks before the explosion. He was one of those who perished.
Local union leaders said there was widespread neglect at the mine and the workforce had been cut by 50% since 2001. Since the 2014 Soma disaster, 673 more miners have been killed, 53 so far in 2022. But Turkey is no different than any other capitalist country, where bosses push for maximum production and profits with the full backing of their governments.
The world capitalist system is in a deepening, long-term crisis of production and trade, with increasing prospects that workers and farmers will confront an extended period of stagflation.
Workers face dangerous conditions in industries worldwide. This can and must be changed! The working class has the numbers and power to do so!
No matter where we live, by organizing and fighting we gain experience, class consciousness and confidence. In addition to fighting for workers control of production, we need to form our own political party, based on our unions, to fight to replace the rule of the bosses with a workers and farmers government.
No worker has to die on the job!