A sit-in protest by miners who were dismissed from their jobs in Soma district of Turkey’s western Manisa province in November 2014 entered its 19th day as they seek their severance pay benefits, the T24 news website reported on Wednesday.
The protest was initially set to be a march from Manisa to Ankara on October 5 but has since turned into a sit-in because of police intervention.
The miners announced to the press on Wednesday that their protest will continue until November 5, when they meet with a delegation chaired by Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Seref Kalayci to reach a final decision on the issue will be held.
The miners, along with representatives from the Independent Miners’ Union, made the statement a day after they met with Kalayci as well as Hakan Oztatar, Justice Ministry’s Legal Affairs General Director and the Turkish Coal Enterprises (TKI) General Manager Omer Bayrak in Ankara.
The statement included the miners’ demand to receive their severance pay until the end of 2019 and negotiations for the compensation payment of other miners who were working in the Soma Holding’s Isiklar and Ata Bacasi mines before they were closed in 2013 due to an explosion.
“Just as the protest launched by 50 miners on October 5 cracked the door open for the compensation of [Soma’s] Eynez [coal mine] workers’ rights, so it will for the former workers of Isiklar and Ata Bacasi mines,” they underlined.
A total of 2831 miners were dismissed from their jobs by Soma Holding, a few months after an explosion at Eynez coal mine that caused an underground mine fire and killed 301 people in what was the deadliest mine disaster in Turkey’s history.
In the aftermath of the incident, unions and workers have cited poor working conditions and lack of safety regulations for laborers.
The Soma trial which had started in 2015, resulted in 14 defendants being sentenced to jail and the remaining 34 acquitted on July 11 last year.
Can Gurkan, the CEO of Soma Coal Enterprises who was among those who received sentences, was released from prison by a court order earlier in 2019.