Workers Called Out: “Forward to Struggle and Solidarity against Work Accidents!”

The event “Forward to struggle and Solidarity against Wok Accidents” organised by UID-DER in Oil, Chemistry and Tyre Workers’ Union (Petrol-İş) Hall was participated by hundreds of workers from various cities and towns. Workers from working-class neighbourhoods of Adana, Mersin, Ankara, Zonguldak, Karabük, Çorlu, Gebze and İstanbul showed their enthusiastic support for the campaign against work accidents and occupational diseases carried on by UID-DER.

Among the audience were Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) co-chair and İstanbul MP Ertuğrul Kürkçü, İstanbul MP Levent Tüzel, Confederation of Public Employees’ Unions (KESK) chairman Lami Özgen, executives from the Leather and Textile Workers’ Union (DERİTEKS) Tuzla branch, General Workers’ Union (Genel-İş) İstanbul Anatolian Side Branch, Metal Workers’ Union (Çelik-İş) İstanbul Branch no1 and 2. And there were also executives from the Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly, Association of Bir Umut (One Hope), Anti-capitalist Muslims/ Association of Struggle against Capitalism, Association of Countrymen from Karer. Moreover there were workers in wildcat strike against their bosses in Feniş Alimünyum, Punto Deri, Hacettepe University and DHL. They expressed their anger against work accidents.

Many solidarity messages sent from different countries and workers’ organisations were read out, demonstrating the significance of international solidarity.

After introductory remarks and greetings, a video was shown describing UID-DER’s activities. The event was dedicated to the memory of those workers who lost their lives in work accidents and in the struggle of the working class and they were commemorated by a moment of silence. Workers in the hall expressed their anger against work accidents by standing ovation in memory of those died.

In the main speech given in the name of UID-DER the importance of work accidents was stressed. It was pointed out that work accidents cause

physical and psychological destruction in workers and their families, that more than a hundred thousand signatures collected during UID-DER campaign “Work Accidents are not destiny, Stop Workers Dying of Work Accidents” represented a huge protest of workers, and that UID-DER carried this protest to parliament, that it was the bosses and the AKP government who did not take necessary precautions and proper inspections to blame for the work accidents. The speech was a striking exposition of capitalist system of exploitation. It was also noted that UID-DER has been founded for developing the organisation of the working class to solve its problems and spread this organisation over wider sections of the working class, that under circumstances where trade-unions were not properly active UID-DER had to undertake their natural tasks. And with its various campaigns UID-DER bolstered workers’ morale and through organising and struggle workers got out of their hopelessness and felt stronger. And appeal for organisation was repeated.

There were various videos about work accidents and workers’ struggles shown during the event. And families of those workers who lost their lives also took the floor. Among the participants of the event were those workers who were heavily injured and their feelings were described. Elder sister of Selin Edem who fell victim to an accident during shooting of a TV serial and elder brother of Heybetttin Güleç who lost his life in the Davutpaşa blast last year made speeches in the name of Workers’ Families Seeking Justice and thanked UID-DER for its work against work accidents. And workers from Feniş, Punto Deri, Hacettepe University who are in wildcat strike expressed their anger against work accidents and made their appeals for solidarity with their struggle. After their speeches Ertuğrul Kürkçü co-chair of HDP and Levent Tüzel (MP from HDP) took the floor and stressed the importance of UID-DER campaign and of not remaining silent against work accidents and that it is possible to organise influential struggles. Mahmut Şengül, Istanbul Anatolian Side branch chair of the DİSK Genel-İş (General Workers Union) pointed out that unions must fulfil their responsibilities about work accidents as well as other issues.

Apart from the speech made on behalf of the UID-DER Workers’ Health and Work Safety Committee, there were solidarity messages read out from Japan, Britain, Iran, Austria and Germany as a beautiful expression of

international solidarity. The problems of migrant workers as one the most vulnerable sections of the working class were also stressed. Elif Çağlı’s poem (Boat of Hope) about migrant workers’ hard life was recited. Like poems there were songs of struggle sung by UID-DER Music Band. And the event ended with “Worker’s Song” sung all together, with standing ovation and the chant “UID-DER marches forward, struggle grows!”
23 December 2013