Total Call : determined to fight all forms of trade unionism

The company Total Call is a call centre situated in Casablanca, and is a subsidiary of the Iliad Group which manages the “Free” brand. Staffing levels at the Casablanca site exceed 1,400 employees. Right up to this day, the company has always refused to allow the holding of worker delegate elections, as mandated by Morocco’s labour code and which was adopted by the different partners and ratified in Parliament in 2004. There is no union representation, but this is not because the workers don’t wish for it.

Subsequently, as of 2009, the workers initiated their first attempts at becoming organised with the support of the Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT). The first attempt failed and the members of the union local were dismissed.

In light of the events that took place in Morocco in 2011, the workers made another attempt that year, and again in 2012, but management’s retaliation was severe – and – after having dismissed the members of the union local, the workers started on a long strike and sit-in in front of the call centre’s offices. Despite both local and international solidarity, management proceeded to dismiss dozens of workers and the union local was dissolved.

Finally, as of 2013, with the creation by the UMT of the National Commission for Call Centre Organising (CNOC), a group of activists established a new union local and took great care to protect the employees by working effectively clandestinely until they obtained their official government certificate attesting to the union local’s legal existence.

On the 13th of February 2014, the day after having received the official government certification, management did not hesitate and proceeded to dismiss 5 members of the union local. Prior to doing so, management had attempted to get them to renounce their union affiliation, by offering material advantages.

Solidly supported by the central UMT union which immediately took the step of writing to the CGEM employers’ federation, to the AMRC association of call centre operators, and the local authorities, the CNOC organised a sit-in in front of the regional headquarters of the Ministry of Labour, as well as in front of the employer to denounce their illegal decision. There was no response, and the leaders of the UMT proceeded to present the problem to the local and national authorities – except these did not act either.

Coincidentally, the date of this dismissal coincided with the organisation of an international conference on call centres in Orlando by UNI-Global Union and the CWA. Our delegate and the CNOC coordinator were able to present the situation at the conference, after which a large wave of international solidarity followed.

Coordinating with the Comrades from the Solidarity Center and UNI-ICTS, LabourStart was solicited to start an international campaign via the “ActNow!” campaign. The latter organisation received the necessary explanations and did not hesitate in supporting the UMT’s activists.

The icing on the cake came, when Comrade Mostapha Berrchid – the general secretary of the Total Call union local – was invited to participate at the “Global Solidarity Conference” in Berlin from the 22nd to the 25th of May 2014, where he was applauded and welcomed as a hero after having made introductory remarks at the opening of the conference to explain the situation and obtain support from the delegates for trade union activism in Moroccan call centres.

In addition to activists, correspondents, and supporters of LabourStart from around the world, dozens of Moroccans have been able to – for the first time ever, participate in an on-line LabourStart campaign. And record numbers were achieved, not only for the participation of Moroccans, but in the level of support for a Moroccan trades’ union cause – with 8,527 signatures.

This marks the occasion of a new and promising activist experience for union causes in Morocco.

As of today, even though the management of Total Call has not backed down, they have however been placed in a compromising situation: hesitating between engaging in a dialogue with the UMT, organising worker delegate elections, recognising the right to freedom of association, or trying to buy time by maintaining the status quo. The “devil’s advocates” continue to exhort the management not to recognise trades’ union rights, or – failing that – to create a “yellow” union, or to organise false delegate elections.

But one thing is certain, and that is that the management of Total Call cannot continue to play dumb, especially after the hard knock they have received as a result of the LabourStart campaign against their repeated violations of trades’ union rights and freedoms.

Today, the lessons of international solidarity are more than ever a symbol of hope for us and for the comrades at Total Call, as well as for all the women and men working at call centres. It is them who have been most supported to see the number of friends they have around the world, as well as the strength of our links to LabourStart, with the Solidarity Center, with UNI-ICTS, as well as with other trades’ union organisations in France, Belgium, Tunisia, the USA and elsewhere.

We are now better supported and more determined than ever to continue with our struggle for freedom and our rights, and we know that we can count on you all.

We would like to thank the comrades: Michael Schwaabe, Eric Lee, Alan Tate, and all the others.

Long live international solidarity.
For the CNOC – UMT
Mohamed El Wafy, coordinator
and
Mostapha Berrchid – Total Call General Secretary

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Justices Rule Certain Workers Can’t Be Forced to Pay Union Fees: Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory Fees for Illinois Home-Based Care Workers

from http://online.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-avoids-broad-ruling-on-public-sector-union-fees-1404138001

By

Brent Kendall And
Melanie Trottman
Updated June 30, 2014 3:05 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON-A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that Illinois home-based care workers can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join.

However, the high court avoided the broadest possible ruling in the case, declining a request by the challengers to limit the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from all nonmembers.

The court, in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, said the aides, who provide care to the disabled, weren’t full-fledged public employees even though they are paid for their work by the state. Because of that status, the workers couldn’t be required to pay fees to a public-sector union, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision.

Justice Alito said requiring mandatory union fees violated the First Amendment rights of aides that didn’t want to join or support the union.

If the court sided with Illinois and the union, “we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support,” Justice Alito wrote.

The court’s majority decided against overruling a past precedent that was favorable to public-sector unions, though Justice Alito said the court’s earlier 1977 ruling allowing such mandatory fees rests on questionable footing.

The ruling split along ideological lines, with conservative justices in the majority and liberal justices in the dissent.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the dissenters, said Illinois had ” a more than sufficient interest” in managing its workforce and administering home-care programs “to require employees to pay a fair share of a union’s costs of collective bargaining.”

Labor lawyers said that more broadly, unions dodged a bullet but may not be able to in the future. Monday’s ruling “sets the table for more challenges to agency fees down the road. And this fact will not make unions sleep any easier,” said Michael Lotito a labor lawyer at Littler Mendelson.

Illinois had authorized Medicaid-paid home-health workers to unionize and collectively bargain with the state. One group of health aides voted to join the Service Employees International Union. The union can’t force all workers to become members, but the contract it negotiated with the state requires nonmembers to pay a fee to the union to cover their share of costs related to workplace representation.

The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, an antiunion group in Springfield, Va., sued on behalf of eight Medicaid-paid aides, some of whom are covered by the SEIU agreement. Most of the challengers were caring for disabled family members.

The foundation said the Illinois arrangement had forced parents and other relatives taking care of disabled people into union associations they didn’t want. The group said Monday’s ruling would free “thousands of home-care providers from unwanted union control.”

The challengers argued that even though they’re paid by the state Medicaid program, they shouldn’t be classified as state workers because they can be terminated by the individuals who employ them.

Unions argued that because all covered workers benefit from the collective bargaining terms, the mandatory fees prevent nonmembers from free-riding on union members. Unions argued that states should have the right to choose how to manage their workforce and that collective bargaining helps create a stable, well-trained workforce for in-home care rather than caretaking at facilities they contend would be more costly.

“At a time when wages remain stagnant and income inequality is out of control, joining together in a union is the only proven way home care-workers have of improving their lives and the lives of the people they care for,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

The Supreme Court decision weakens a tool for organized labor to expand its ranks and could have an impact in several states that have similar arrangements with public-sector unions. Personal assistants in Illinois pay SEIU–Healthcare Illinois and Indiana more than $3.6 million in fees annually, according to court documents.

The Supreme Court has grown more skeptical of organized labor since two George W. Bush appointees arrived in the mid-2000s. The case was seen as a potential test of the more conservative current majority’s approach to collective bargaining issues.

The high court’s ruling declined to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court decision that allowed government entities to require public employees to pay “fair-share” fees to a union that negotiates on their behalf. That ruling did allow public employees to refuse to fund union activities outside collective bargaining, such as political campaigning.

—Jess Bravin contributed to this article.

Write to Brent Kendall at brent.kendall@wsj.com

 

Chicago Jobs with Justice Endorses HR 676

The Chicago Chapter of Jobs with Justice has endorsed HR 676, national single payer legislation sponsored by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan.  HR 676 is also called “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.”

Susan Hurley, Executive Director of Chicago Jobs with Justice, commented on the resolution, “Single payer health care has to be our ultimate goal in the United States.  It is the only humane and civilized choice, as well as being the best choice for health outcomes and cost.”

“The longer the delay, the deeper our shame in the eyes of the world and future generations,” Hurley stated.

The resolution notes that an estimated 31 million Americans will remain uninsured in 2023 and that underinsurance is growing as many patients are forced into insurance plans with high-deductibles (> $1,000) and narrow networks of providers.

Chicago Jobs with Justice, a broad coalition of scores of unions and other organizations including the Chicago Federation of Labor, is dedicated to promoting workers’ rights and social and economic justice.

*******************************

HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare to everyone residing in the U. S.  Patients will choose their own physicians and hospitals.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments.  HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 58 co-sponsors in addition to Congressman Conyers.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 614 union organizations including 147 Central Labor Councils/Area Labor Federations and 44 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NJ, NY, NV, MA, RI, NH, ID & NM).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551

Email: nursenpo@aol.com
http://unionsforsinglepayer.org
6/23/14

Protests mark first month since illegal dismissal of 24 union officials at NXP Philippines

Series of protest actions on 5 June 2014 marked the 1st month of the illegal dismissal of 24 union officers in NXP Cabuyao.

A picket protest in the morning in front of the main office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) served as the kick-off activity. Various organizations expressed support to the NXP fight. Representative Fernando Hicap, Anakpawis Partylist Representative, also came and spoke at the rally. Rep. Hicap said he has already filed in the House of Representatives an investigation in aid of legislation with regard to NXP workers’ issues.

Read the full report, with photos, here.

Victory for workers’ rights at the United Nations

by Ian Richards
President of the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations
Vice-President of the United Nations Staff-Management Committee

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the campaign by UN unions to restore the recognition rights of UN staff has secured a successful outcome.

On behalf of the unions of the United Nations, I would like to thank you, LabourStart and your 14,000 members who sent emails to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their fantastic support during the campaign. Your efforts helped persuade the Secretary-General and his team that the UN should live up to its principles on human rights and labour representation.

We know that management only came back to the table because unions, organizations and working people around the world were united in their anger at the way the Secretary-General withdrew trade union recognition last June.

The Secretary-General has agreed a new negotiating system that significantly improves on the UN Staff Management Committee (SMC) rules that applied previously.

Most importantly, the right of unions to represent UN staff has been restored, bringing to an end the crisis in staff-management relations caused when the Secretary-General’s representatives walked out of SMC.

This unilateral action by management left us unable to negotiate over crucial system-wide issues such as mobility policy, safety and security in the field, protection for whistle-blowers and rights for dependents of UN staff killed and injured in service.

Highlights of the new negotiating system include:
Increased regular contact on system-wide issues with formal meetings every three months, meaning pressing items can no longer be kicked into the long grass
If the Secretary-General doesn’t agree an SMC recommendation, or agrees but doesn’t implement, the issue will automatically come back to the table within strict time limits, leading to swift renegotiation
Where there is clear disagreement, we’ve regained the right to mediation as before, with a third-party mediator appointed from an agreed roster and a strict timetable for resolution
If an issue has to go to the General Assembly, management will share the draft Secretary-General report with staff, allowing us to intervene before any decision is made.
Results of SMC meetings will be communicated to all staff with a status report showing items ‘Agreed,’ ‘Not Agreed,’ or ‘Pending’.

The agreement represents a major success for UN staff and unions and for our friends in the wider union movement. It would not have been achieved without your support to our ‘UN UNION RIGHTS’ campaign, the personal testimonies of staff, and media coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and other newspapers internationally.

We have made new friends across the world and raised awareness of the issues we deal with every day. These gains have strengthened the position of the UN’s unions for the challenges ahead and you played a key role in this.

Thank you again.

Global solidarity on display in Berlin as trade unionists meet at LabourStart conference

lsberlinpanel

LabourStart’s annual Global Solidarity Conference took place in Berlin this year, and it was by far the largest one we’ve ever held. 360 trade unionists from many different countries came to Germany to take part in workshops, debates, film showings and conversation.  The conference theme was “Global Crisis – Global Solidarity”.

The conference came shortly after the congress of the International Trade Union Confederation, also in Berlin, and many ITUC delegates came along to LabourStart afterwards. While both conferences are important opportunities for labour movement activists, LabourStart conferences aim to achieve something quite distinct. No motions were voted upon, nor elections held, and any trade unionist could come along be they a General Secretary, a shop steward or a rank-and-file member. Rather than being a formal decision-making body, Global Solidarity Conferences are an opportunity for workers from all over the world to meet up, share their experiences and discuss ideas.

And what better place for it than Berlin? At the heart of Europe, the city is immensely rich in labour movement history. In the 19th century, Berlin was the cradle of a new trade union movement, workers’ cultural associations and socialist politics, earning a reputation as the ‘capital city of social democracy’. Today, the city is full of streets and squares named after famous trade unionists, socialists and workers’ leaders.

With so many people coming to the conference, we needed a building large enough to accommodate them. Luckily, the German service workers’ union, Ver.di, was on hand to lend us their magnificent (and enormous!) headquarters. Right next to the historic workers’ quarter of Kreuzberg, conference participants were able to begin the weekend with two walking tours, led by Win Windisch and Gunter Regneri, taking in the sights from Berlin’s political past.

Back at Ver.di HQ, conference opened with a introduction to LabourStart. Derek Blackadder of the Canadian Union of Public Employees told participants about the online campaigns that LabourStart runs in support of workers’ struggles, as well as the comprehensive news service we provide on trade union issues. He explained how all of this was possible thanks to a global network of hundreds of correspondents and volunteers, translating, reporting and publicising in their own free time.

Shortly afterwards, a plenary session was held to discuss the topic of the global crisis, and how best to build union power on a global level.

The first speaker was Dave Oliver, head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who had also opened the previous LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference in Sydney.

Conference was then addressed by Kıvanç Eliaçık of the Turkish union federation DISK, who spoke of the repression faced by workers in Turkey, and lead a minute’s silence to remember the miners killed in the horrendous Soma disaster.

The plenary also heard Mag Wompel of LaborNet and Michael Bride of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union in the USA, who discussed the difficulties of organising workers along the supply chains of multinational enterprises, and how such a feat can be achieved. We were also delighted to have a speech by Mostafa Berrchid, a sacked call centre worker from Casablanca whose struggle for justice LabourStart has been proud to support. After the plenary had finished, conference was treated to wine, beer and nibbles, and serenaded by a trade union choir. Hats off to any musical collective with a range that stretches from Hanns Eisler, through the Internationale all the way to John Lennon!

Plenary sessions continued on the Saturday morning, opened by ver.di chairman Frank Bsirske. A panel followed with six speakers, five of them women. They included Myrtle Witbooi, founding leader of the newly-formed International Domestic Workers Federation), Burcu Ayan from the IUF, Petra Brannmark from IndustriALL, Nazma Akter from Bangladesh, and Claudia Rahman from IG Metall (Germany).

Over the course of the weekend, discussions were held on all sorts of different topics of importance to the workers’ movement. Some of these addressed technical questions, such as how best to harness the potential of social media, radio and the mainstream press. Others delved into political questions that face our movement, such as how to support trade unionists struggling underneath autocratic and authoritarian regimes. Sparks flew in debates on the situation of the labour movement in the post-Soviet countries, as well as what approach to take to the regime-controlled ‘official’ state unions in China.

Away from the heat of controversy, participants were able to sit back and take advantage of the warm weather on Saturday evening at Jockels Beer Garden. This was a great opportunity to chat with comrades and colleagues from across the globe, as well as to sample Germany’s famous range of beers. A klezmer band also put on a raucous show to raise money for victimised anti-fascists in Germany and Greece.

Throughout the conference, copies of LabourStart’s new book, Solidarity, were on sale. The book is a collection of essays by Dan Gallin, former leader of the International Union of Foodworkers, and a critical thinker on the tasks of the labour movement. Dan gave a talk on his long and extraordinarily varied career in labour politics, a career that began with heterodox Trotskyism in the United States, lead on to involvement with the highest level of trade union politics, and which included clashes with CIA infiltrators and Soviet Bloc bureaucrats alike. He shared his thoughts on how to rebuild a labour movement with a campaigning spirit and a political brain, and afterwards he signed copies of his books for a long queue of people.

The conference wasn’t limited to just talk, either. We also took advantage of our numbers to stage a protest against Edeka, a company which has been exploiting Brazilian workers producing orange juice for sale in Germany, as well as its workers in Germany (who are organized by ver.di). After sessions had finished, we marched with our many different union banners through the streets of Berlin, and held a rally outside an Edeka store. Speeches were given calling on the company to give a fair deal to its workers in Brazil.

The conference ended with a session on LabourStart and the global labour movement, and the speakers included Espen Loken from the energy workers union in Norway, Martina Hartung from ver.di, Kirill Buketov from the IUF, Sunghee Oh from the Korean Government Employees Union and Eric Lee, LabourStart’s founding editor. It ended with a rousing singing of the “Internationale” in dozens of languages.

At the end of the conference, LabourStart correspondents met to discuss our work over the last year, and talk through ideas to build and improve LabourStart. With so much of our work taking place online, this was a useful chance to piece together a strategy together, in the flesh. We came up with some great ideas about how to co-ordinate correspondents on a local level, how to improve the website and campaigns pages to get the best out of them, and how to build on this year’s success for future conferences.

Conference this year was a brilliant one. Not only was it a great turnout, but the quality of the discussions was excellent and lots of us will have taken away some valuable experiences. LabourStart would like to thank everyone for coming, and extend particular thanks to those who put in a lot of time and effort into organising it. None of what we achieved would have been possible without the work of many people, nearly all of them doing so on a purely voluntary basis. Thanks to all who came along, and if you didn’t make it this time, see you next year in Vancouver.

— Tom Harris and Eric Lee

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Wins ITUC’s World’s Worst Boss Poll

Jeff Bezos CEO of  Amazon was announced as winner of the world’s worst boss at the 3rd International Trade Union Confederation World Congress in Berlin. The ITUC representing 180 million workers, is meeting in Berlin with over 1500 delegates from 161 countries.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary ITUC said while there are many CEO’s which have bad track records, nine stood out in 2014 as deserving of inclusion in the first poll of World’s Worst Bosses by the global union.

“Corporate power is out of control, it is cowering governments with threats of capital flight. The greed of the 1% is of more interest to our governments than the 99 %.

“We decided we would start exposing some of the elements of the worst boss phenomena – undermining democracy, undermining workers’ rights, supporting slavery and kafala.

“Amazon operating in Germany treats its workers as if they are robots. The company makes no secret that within just a few years they will replace workers with robots. A rich American corporation operating globally with disdain for dignity, for rights for working people. Jeff Bezos represents the  inhumanity  of employers who are promoting the American corporate model.  The message to big business is back off, you are not going to mistreat workers,” said Sharan Burrow.

Over twenty thousand votes were cast for nine bosses, chosen for their abuses of workers’ rights, along with other activities which undermine the interests of working people. From tax avoidance, to corporate bullying or attempts to influence public opinion the rogues gallery of worst bosses has

Amazon has been at the forefront of tax avoidance scams and difficult working conditions.

  • Warehouse workers walk as much as 15 miles / 24 km a day;
  • Ambulances regularly wait outside facilities to collect workers;
  • In Germany Ver.di warehouse workers have been fighting for better wages and conditions.

 

“Workers at Amazon distribution centres are required to wear digital arm mounted terminals that monitor their every move. There are no agreed protocols about breaks and speed, and a culture of bullying and harassment is rife. Staff arereprimanded just for speaking to one another or even pausing to catch their breath,” said Sharan Burrow.

 

Dishonorable mentions were awarded to Mr X from a major airline and Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO News Corp.

The CEO of Qatar Airlines blamed unions for the global unemployment in an interview with Arabian Business (May 2013) he said “If you did not have unions you wouldn’t have this jobless problem in the western world.”

 

The World’s Worst Boss poll included:

  • C. Douglas McMillon, CEO Wal-Mart Stores
  • Jamie Dimon, CEO JP Morgan Chase
  • Loyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sachs Group
  • Charles Koch, CEO Koch Industries
  • Lee Kun-Hee, Chairman Samsun Group
  • Ivan Glasenberg, CEO Glencore Xstrata

 

 

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Gemma Swart

Campaigns and Communications

International Trade Union Confederation

Murder in the coal mines

by Kıvanç Eliaçık

Director of International Relations Department
Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey – DISK

On 13th of May 2014 Turkey faced with the biggest coal mine explosion in the country’s history. It is reported that there are more than thousand mine workers trapped inside the privately owned mine and death toll rises every single second. More than 230 mine workers died, is the last information we have received. There is a 15 years old boy, Kemal Yıldız among the deceased and more than 80 injured mine workers and rescue team members are at the hospital. 

Unfortunately, there are no healthy official announcements about the death toll and the cause of the accident from the authorities. The families of the mine workers are waiting anxiously in front of the collapsed pit or in front of the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones are rescued.

 

The district of Soma is known for its coal mines, it won’t be wrong to say that Soma is the heart of coal mines. After privatization of the mines for many years, so many occupational accidents have been erupted. Coal mines are just an example to the rest of the occupational accidents that have been going on for a long time in other industrial sectors in Turkey. To give some numbers, the occupational accidents have increased by 40 per cent from 2002 to 2011 in Turkey. This number is too high to be disregarded. The main reasons for the increase of occupation accidents are the widely used system of subcontracting, lack of occupational health and safety measures and inadequate inspection of work places by the authorities.

 

In order to draw attention of the government on this issue, a Member of the Parliament from the main opposition party, CHP, Özgür Özel, presented a motion to research to the Parliament about the occupational accidents and security measures in the district of Soma recently. This motion was denied with the votes of the ruling party.

 

Soma Holding is the owner of the coal mine in the district of Soma in Manisa province. Reportedly, there has been an inspection recently in the mine where the accident has occurred. The inspectors, then, concluded that all the practices and the technology that was used in the mine were in line with the relevant legislations. However, still today, the company could not even announce the number of workers who were inside the mine at the time of the accident. This raises the question of the approved technology and its appropriateness, not even talking about the inspection itself.

 

Soma Holding is a ‘redevance’ company which means that the privately owned mine is run by “rental in return of coal” system. The cost per ton of coal was 130 -140 US dollars before Soma Holding acquired the mine but the company decreased the cost per ton of coal to 23.8 US dollars after the acquisition. It is clearly seen that the company transferred the profit it earned from the mines to the construction sector.  The company is also the owner of the famous skyscraper in Istanbul, named as Spine Tower. Most of the workers are either unregistered or they work for minimum wage.

 

The government officials, local authorities and mainstream media try to conceal the death tolls and even announce misleading and unrealistic numbers. Repeated information on the company’s undisputed record of security measures and occupational safety is being shared with public, reminding that coal mine accidents are unavoidable. It is unjust and unacceptable when the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a press conference after 24 hours of the accident and said that: “these accidents are usual.”

 

Just a week ago Ministry of Labor and Social Security organized an International Occupational Health and Safety Symposium. The Minister bragged about the improvements of occupational health and security measures in Turkey, and accused the trade unions for not contributing to the issue. It is important to remember that on May Day this year, he authorities have blocked all the streets and impeded the trade unionists to raise the issue of occupational health and safety publicly on May Day events.

 

Today trade unions are organizing actions in work places and city centers. ITUC and ETUC members DISK and KESK Confederations, together with TMMOB, The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects and TTB, Turkish Medical Association announced a countrywide general strike for tomorrow. The unionists, activists, students and workers are gathering in Taksim and in front of the company’s headquarters in protests tomorrow, to remind the duties and responsibilities of government officials on occupational health and safety and to end subcontracting that leads to violating workers’ rights.

 

According to trade unions in Turkey, there is a system of subcontracting, there is a system of maximizing profit rather than humanity and also there is system of seeing workers’ health and occupational safety as cost items. The company is not the sole responsible of the murders but the authorities who have not conducted the necessary and appropriate inspections are also associates in crime.

 

We have hope, we wait for good news… But we also mourn… Merle Travis is singing his song ‘16 tons’ for Soma miners; St. Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go /  I owe my soul to the company store