Protests, strikes break out in Turkey after mine disaster

Trade unions claim privatization has made working conditions worse.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  May 15, 2014 at 11:34 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, May 15 (UPI) -- Clashes broke out during demonstrations across Turkey, and trade unions organized a one-day strike in protest of the mine disaster that killed at least 282 miners.

The fire and explosion in a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, on Tuesday prompted three days of mourning across the country, as well as street protests.

Over 3,000 people marched on the labor ministry in the capital, Ankara. Protesters attempted to march to Istanbul's Taksim Square, site of anti-government demonstrations, but were stopped by police. Meanwhile, a protest by 20,000 people in Izmir, 75 miles from the mine, involved police firing tear gas and water cannons.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was pushed and booed, and his car was kicked by protesters, as he visited Soma on Wednesday.

Trade unions blame Turkey's privatization of the mining industry for the mine incident, claiming it was made working conditions more dangerous. The Soma mine was privatized in 2005.

The death toll at the mine is currently 282 people, with eight more bodies brought to the surface overnight; as many as 150 more miners remain missing.

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