Minister of Labour and Social Security Faruk Çelik has announced that 60 denim sandblasting workshops will be closed for forcing their workers to work in unhealthy conditions.
Following the inspection of 71 such workshops, it was found that sixty did not meet standards. They will be closed.
X-rays have shown silica in many workers
Chest X-rays of 93 workers from 15 workshops were taken, and in 38 of them evidence of silica was found.
Carrying out regular chest X-rays are part of the responsibility of the employer, but many do not follow the rules, so Çelik.
Replying to a motion by Istanbul MPs Sacit Yıldız and Çetin Soysal from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Minister Çelik said that most of the denim workshops were in Istanbul and Çorlu, west of Istanbul.
39 victims of unsafe work conditions
Up to today, 39 workers have died of the silicosis disease, which affects the lungs and is not curable. The last worker to die was 24-year-old Ruhat Yıldırak, who died this week.
The workers are affected by the silica dust which is created in the process of sandblasting jeans in order to give them a “faded”, worn look.
Çelik said that workers were supposed to be given filtered face masks and that employers were told to send their employees for regular chest X-rays.
The minister added that workshops outside of Istanbul and Çorlu were also being inspected and that these inspections would become more frequent. He also said that more developed technology meant that workplaces would be required carry out the blasting within closed systems.
The Committee for Solidarity with Denim Sandblasters (KTİD) has said that there are around 4,000 denim workers with the disease and that the connection between the occupation and the disease has been known since 2004.
On 11 March, the committee has organised a concert in support of the workers in Istanbul. Famous singers, actors and dancers will take the stage on that night:
Arif Sağ, Şebnem Sönmez, Cahit Berkay, Yasemin Göksu, Mor ve Ötesi, Kardeş Türküler, Anadolu Ateşi, Zeynep Tanbay, İclal Aydın and actors from the "Elveda Rumeli" series. (BW/AG)
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