Great Support from Workers: The 100.000 Signatures Target Achieved!

UİD-DER’s campaign, “Work Accidents are not Destiny, Stop Workers Dying of Work Accidents!” has achieved the 100.000 signatures goal. Working masses showed great interest in and supported the campaign which was conducted in many cities and towns, mainly in workers’ neighbourhoods. During the campaign about 500.000 people were contacted face to face and informed about the vital importance of work accidents, raising the awareness.

UID-DER, as a workers’ organisation for unity, solidarity and struggle, approaches problems of the working class on the basis of independent class policy and combats to solve these problems. While the trade-unions that are workers’ organisations supposed to get fully involved are reluctant to wage an adequate fight, UİD-DER, with all its might, tries to organise workers, boost their morale and strength, unite them as a class against bosses. UİD-DER marches forward along this road with persistence, determination, class discipline and faith in struggle. Achieving the 100.000 signature goal under adverse circumstances is a result of this conception of work.

In relation to the campaign UID-DER had set the target of addressing hundreds of thousands of workers, of raising their consciousness by explaining to them the truth about work accidents and occupational illnesses and making them more responsive. There is a clear sign that UID-DER’s campaign achieved its goals: The campaign is known in many industrial areas and UID-DER has become a frequent address for workers and their families who suffer from the consequences of work accidents and occupational illnesses.

Work accidents and occupational illnesses are one of the most serious problems of the working class. We surely could not remain silent about them that take approximately 100 workers’ lives a month, injure and mutilate thousands of them, make them and their families suffer a lot. As a result of mounting discontent and pressure, the AKP government passed a new law, Work Safety Law, allegedly to prevent work accidents. But this law was not a remedy for workers’ problems. Actually its main motive was not to prevent work accidents, but to do away with the pressure. Even the very limited measures brought by the law remained on paper, their implementation is delayed, and workplaces are not inspected properly.

At the start of the campaign we had our previous experiences gained through our campaigns against nuclear power stations, against the government attempt to practically liquidate the redundancy payment, for lower work hours with increased wages. We made an extensive preparation and planning. Workers from UID-DER started first by educating themselves on work accidents and occupational diseases. Hundreds of UID-DER activists to carry on the campaign took part in educational seminars and briefings. They got their education from their fellow comrades from among themselves specialised on work accidents and occupational diseases. Workers from diverse industries ranging from leather production through metal, petro-chemistry, shipyards, logistics, etc. to textile were addressed face to face, surveyed and the most frequent types of work accidents and occupational diseases are established together with ways for protection.

Leaflets about workplace accidents and occupational diseases, posters, banners, placards and pictures to be exhibited during the campaign were all prepared. Interviews were made with workers who had experienced work accidents and their families and many short films were produced. Explained in all these diverse materials was: it is the greedy bosses to blame for work accidents and occupational diseases, who do not bother to take precautionary safety measures. And the government is accomplice since it does not pass proper regulations, not inspect workplaces and punish bosses. The bosses and AKP government who are responsible for the deaths seek to justify work accidents by calling them “act of god.”

UID-DER activists set to work with great enthusiasm. There were two targets: first, to raise workers’ consciousness about work accidents and occupational diseases and make them more responsive; second, to develop their discontent into organisation and concrete support for the campaign. To appeal to workers, the activists worked under all kinds of hardships in working-class neighbourhoods, at factory entrances, so called industrial zones and city squares during the campaign. They set up stalls, organised street activities etc. Having seen UID-DER activists workers said that: Here they are with their red aprons and hats! UID-DER activists have long been identified with red hat and apron among workers. Red hat and apron were an expression of the fact that workers are not alone and solidarity and struggle is not dead.

During the campaign more than a half million people were addressed face to face. Hundreds of workplaces were contacted. Thanks to the campaign, workers got organised to force their bosses to implement safety measures and bring trade-union organisation in their workplaces. UID-DER Workers’ Health and Safety Committee visited the workplaces in which work accidents occurred and workers who experienced work accidents and recorded such cases. Many cases which were tried to keep secret by the bosses were publicised by UID-DER. Meetings about workers’ health and safety were held in many workplaces and working-class neighbourhoods. Lawyers who support workers’ rights and UID-DER’s campaign, worker-specialists from UID-DER took part in the street activities. Hundreds of workers from around Turkey who contacted UID-DER were provided legal assistance. Families who lost their loved ones in work accidents and workers who suffered work accidents supported the campaign and said that “we hope nobody experience what we suffered.”

UID-DER, a genuine workers’ organisation, is growing on a regular basis thanks to growing workers’ support and participation. Workers who struggle with a thousand and one hardships and are squeezed under intense exploitation realise that UID-DER cares about workers’ problems and guides them to solve their problems. Their morale is boosted and they become part of the struggle. They trust UID-DER as a fighting workers’ organisation and join its ranks.

UID-DER will keep its efforts to raise awareness about work accidents through a series of activities in the weeks ahead. Workers’ reaction expressed in more than a hundred thousand signatures collected in UID-DER’s campaign and their cry, “no more work accidents, no more deaths,” will be carried to parliament.

We call on our class brothers and sisters to embrace the demands of the campaign and join the struggle.

28 October 2013