Labor Ministry report highlights reasons for Tuzla deaths

Labor Ministry report highlights reasons for Tuzla deaths

August 13, 2008, Wednesday/ 18:23:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
A report by the Labor and Social Security Ministry has cited long working hours, insufficient occupational health and safety measures, subcontracting problems and lack of vocational training as being among the primary reasons behind the frequent work-related accidents and deaths at shipyards in the Tuzla area of Istanbul.The report noted that the shipyards in Turkey were working at about 15 percent of capacity between 1982 and 2000, but following the surge in demand for shipbuilding in international markets in 2002, their numbers and output increased considerably. While the shipbuilding sector has grown by 89 percent around the world since 2003, the Turkish shipbuilding sector gas seen growth of 360 percent in the same period, the report stated.

According to the report, there are 86 shipyards in Turkey, 46 of which are located in Tuzla. There were 480 subcontractors in the country as of June. Yet, this number varies depending on the number of jobs available. The practice of employing subcontractors for shipbuilding was nonexistent before 2002. The number of people employed by prime contractors and subcontractors is currently 23,680, compared to 5,000 before 2002, while 18,500 people are employed by subcontractors. Labor density is six times greater in shipyards than in other sectors.

In a statement regarding the report, Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik pointed out that the number of shipyards rose sharply after 2002 due to a surge in shipbuilding demand. He noted that although the space allocated to shipbuilding activities did not change, the number of employees has risen to around 30,000. "This rise in production and employment has not been paralleled by a similar increase in measures for occupational health and safety," he said.

Çelik stated that the issue of deaths at shipyards should be tackled by taking numerous factors into consideration and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had met with the parties involved to discuss the issue.

The release of the report comes one day after three shipyard workers testing out a lifeboat drowned when the hawser connecting the lifeboat to the ship broke off. More than two dozen workers have died so far this year at the Tuzla shipyards.

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