Turkish workers have a slogan to describe life under the current regime, says health and safety campaigner Asli Odman, “We don’t go to work, we go to war.” In a report issued ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, the Health and Safety Labour Watch (HSLW) expert notes the three sectors with the highest number of deaths in 2018 were agriculture and forestry (457), construction (438) and transport (233). There were also high numbers of deaths in the metal (116), mining (66) and energy sectors (63).
HSLW says one of the reasons for the increase in deaths in these sectors in the previous year (2017) is the state of emergency and statutory decrees which made it impossible for workers, even organised workers, to defend their rights. Union density in Turkey dropped from 24 per cent in 1988 to just 4 per cent in 2013 according to the comparative OECD union density data. Global Industriall union figures show union density in the private sector had fallen to just 3 per cent by 2016.