Unions and professional associations issue a statement in response to the passing of 29 workers

4 Apr 2024
Unions and professional associations issue a statement in response to the passing of 29 workers

Trade unions and professional organizations made a statement regarding the fire that broke out during renovation at the Masquerade Club, a nightclub on the ground floor of a 16-story building in Beşiktaş Gayrettepe, resulting in the deaths of 29 workers.

The Istanbul Regional Representation of DİSK, the Istanbul Branches Platform of KESK, the Istanbul Coordination Board of TMMOB, and the Istanbul Chamber of Physicians members gathered in front of the Masquerade Club where the fire broke out, drawing attention to the negligence and stated, “Enough is enough! Let’s stop workplace accidents and worker fatalities.”


Reading the press release, TMMOB Provincial Secretary Seyfettin Avcı stated that yesterday, the team wanting to conduct a technical examination regarding the fire was not allowed access, and said, “People living and working in the area were consulted, and images shared previously about the place where the fire broke out were examined. According to this information: The fire occurred as a result of the spread of sparks of unknown origin during renovation works in a publicly accessible establishment operated as an entertainment center on the 2nd basement floor (-0.00 m) of the 16-story building. The sparks infiltrated the building materials used for the renovation of the establishment, reached petroleum-based building materials that should definitely not be used in this venue, and ignited these building materials. As a result, poisonous and asphyxiating gases quickly spread throughout the venue, causing the workers engaged in renovation work to run out of oxygen in a very short time, unfortunately resulting in deaths.”


Avcı, stating that there was no emergency exit in the entertainment venue located under a multi-story residential building and where hundreds of people could be present at any moment according to the information obtained, said, “Similar situations are observed in many entertainment venues. In such places, it is likely that there will be other incidents that will harm many people, both workers and visitors. Municipalities, especially those places where there are many people and high risk of fire, such as entertainment venues, should regularly inspect workplaces and residences. Such inspections should not only be based on license applications or complaints. Municipalities need to carry out these activities with expert engineers in fire prevention. During the extensive renovation works apparent in this workplace, it is primarily the responsibility of the business owners and the contractors renovating the building to take necessary precautions for the safety of both the workers and the occupants of the building. A massacre of such magnitude, in which 29 people died, cannot happen without serious negligence of those responsible. The perception being created in public opinion through capital and official institutions that ‘work accidents happen due to the mistakes of workers’ is completely misleading. Planning for worker health and safety should prioritize from the planning stage to the organization, equipment used, chemicals used, and collective protection measures to be taken, and these should be done by employers, not individually by workers. The consequences of not taking these measures can be seen from the fact that at least 7 workers die in work accidents on average every day in our country.”


Avcı, stating that in the current conditions, only the public can act as a restrictor against capital, which does everything to increase its profits and disregards human life, continued his words as follows: “However, public institutions also do not fulfill these duties. The failure of the relevant units of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and municipalities to carry out inspection and enforcement duties against these practices, which jeopardize both worker health and safety and the lives of people in the vicinity, magnifies the incident. Additionally, similar catastrophes could occur at any moment. The responsible parties for the massacre in Gayrettepe are both the operators of the establishment and the public officials who failed to carry out inspection duties. Regulations that prioritize human life over profit must be made to prevent further massacres. Lessons are not learned from the occurred workplace accidents due to the pro-capital government policies and municipal administrations. The power and municipal administrations that go hand in hand with capital and do not learn from the explosions that occurred in Davutpaşa in 2008, in OSTIM in 2011, in Marmara Park Shopping Mall in 2012, and the explosion in Bayrampaşa in 2017 are the real culprits of these massacres.”

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