Work accidents claim 794 lives in first half of 2015
by Sinan Öztürk
ISTANBULJul 07, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Sinan Öztürk
Jul 07, 2015 12:00 am
Recent traffic accident which killed 15 seasonal farm workers in Turkey's western province of Manisa on Monday brought back the Turkish people's focus to worker health and work safety, the country's bleeding wound.
According to the latest report of Istanbul Council for Workers' Health and Work Safety (İSİG) in June, the death toll of the first six months of 2015 was 794. In June alone, 147 people, including eight children, died in work related accidents. Of those who died, six were females and 141 were males. This year's figure was slightly less than last year as 151 workers died in June 2014, while this number was only 59 in June 2012.
Agriculture and forestry were leading sectors with 40 deaths, followed by construction with 33 and transportation with 18 deaths. Traffic accidents were the main cause of death as they claimed 42 lives in June.
The report also focused on the conditions of Syrian immigrants, who are increasingly becoming a cheap labor source in the Turkish labor market. Three Syrian immigrant workers died in work accidents in June.
Work-related deaths peaked in May with 161, followed by 139 deaths in March, 133 deaths in April, 128 deaths in June and 85 deaths in February.
The death toll in the summer months tend be higher as seasonal farm workers, often transported in poor conditions, perish on the roads. In Monday's accident, workers were being carried in the bed of a pickup truck, possibly increasing the death toll as the vehicle collided with a tanker carrying milk.
On October 2014, 18 seasonal farm workers died in a traffic accident in the Isparta province as the brakes of a 24-seat minibus could not handle the load of 46 people crammed inside.
According to Turkish Statistical Institute's (TurkStat) data for 2013, seasonal farm workers comprise almost half of Turkey's 6.5 million strong agricultural labor force.
Globally, more than 60 percent of seasonal farm workers earn below the poverty threshold. 80 percent of these workers do not have any social security, while 70 percent of these workers bring their children along to the fields. If they are hired for seasonal work, they have very poor accommodation conditions with low hygiene standards, while being subject to pesticides.
Conditions in Turkey are no better than the global average. According to a statement by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) in regards to the accident, 80 percent of Turkey's agricultural workers do not have social security, while their labor is being exploited by commissioners. Of all 131 female workers who died in 2014, 71 were working in the agricultural sector, the DİSK statement read.
DİSK also criticized the unfinished road enlargement work continuing since 1998 on the road that the accident took place, citing that the road connects Akhisar and Salihli, two large towns and agriculture industry centers in the Aegean region.