Turkish mining company, home to the country's worst ever mining disaster, is already calling on its workers to resume work

Published May 26th, 2014 - 02:55 GMT

Soma Holding, the firm operating the coal mine in which 301 workers died in Turkey's worst-ever mining disaster has called mine workers at the company's other two mines to start work “if they feel well,” although it previously promised that all mines the company is operating will not be opened before June 1.

Republican People's Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Özgür Özel said that the mine workers at Soma Holding's other two mines were called to start work via SMS text messages.

“Foremen are sending text messages 'to workers saying: "We will not pay salaries of those who will not come." They ask workers to start work tomorrow [May 26],” Özel told reporters on Sunday speaking in front of the Soma district governorate with a group of mine workers.

Mine workers at Ata Bacası mine and Işıklar mine, both operated by Soma Holding, refused to work at mines after a deadly disaster occurred at the company's other mine where 301 workers died, asking for the improvement of safety precautions at mines. Staging a sit-in protest in front of the Soma district governorate for more than 10 days, mine workers ended their protest when government officials announced that mines in Soma will not be opened unless necessary safety precautions are taken.

Stressing that promises given by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the workers were not being kept, Özel said: “The first promise was that nobody would be forced to go in the mine. Moreover, everybody would be granted leave of absence with pay till June 1. Mr. Prime Minister said nobody will step inside the mine unless necessary safety precautions are taken. It would take two or three months, we were told,” Özel said, adding that mine workers should start to work if independent inspectors say that mines are safe.

“We are addressing Mr. Prime Minister and ministers; you gave a promise. Now please explain this call [to start work]: What does that mean? You end mine workers' protest, and on the following day the very first promise is broken,” Özel said.

After Özel's statement, a mine worker Ferdi Özmen, who works at Işıklar mine, showed reporters the text message on his phone read: “The work [at the mine] will start at Sunday night on May 26, 2014.”

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