Workers in Turkey: Not so safe

“THAT building was erected on my brother’s blood,” Damla Kiyak, a 20-year-old student, declares. Two years ago her 30-year-old brother, Baris, a construction worker, burned to death, with ten others, in a tent on the site of a shopping mall in Esenyurt. This urban sprawl on the outskirts of Istanbul is a symbol of the building boom that is enriching Turkey’s businessmen and politicians—and claiming the lives of thousands. The tent in which Baris died was meant for 50 people, but over 100 were crammed into it. They jammed electric blankets and stoves into a power outlet meant for telephone chargers. The tent was flammable. “Inspectors kept warning the owners that a fire was around the corner. They did nothing,” says Ms Kiyak, whose mother was approached by the firm to buy her silence. A legal fight over negligence by the owner continues.At least 14,455 workers have died in industrial accidents since the Justice and Development (AK) party came to power in 2002. “Turkey has the worst worker safety record in Europe,” says Murat Cakir of Yangin Kulesi, an advocacy group. The neglect was revealed by a recent mine explosion in Soma, which killed 302, the highest toll in Turkish history. There was no refuge chamber; oxygen masks did not work; methane leaks and fires occurred daily.In October in Ermenek, another mining town, 18 miners died when a shaft flooded. “My son doesn’t know…

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