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After Soma mine families got meager handouts from gov't, Turkey may need China's advice Read more: h

Although it has been more than two weeks since the Soma mine disaster, the victims' families are still in shock, and even in more of a worry as they are strapped for cash. Turkey's government has been giving very little so far for families to survive on, but perhaps should look to China for ideal advice on how to handle mining rules and safety standards. The Voice of Russia got to interview attorney at law Dr. Harun Kılıç, who has a law office in Istanbul, Turkey over the minimal compensation families are getting now.

He revealed that there is a pathway to negotiation for the families and the Soma mine company could work out and come to an agreement on.

Families continue to stay in the mourning stages, as they have lost loved ones near and dear to their hearts. Though, as with any unfortunate accident, the question in the minds of many is how much the government and company are going to give for compensation. About a week after the May mining accident, Balıkesir Governor Ahmet Turhan said, "The families of the miners who lost their lives are being given 1,000 Turkish Liras initially, and they also received food aid. We will give each of these families 2,000 liras tomorrow," reported Hurriyet Daily News, a media outlet in Turkey.

So far though, the numbers seem grim and rather meager as outsiders believe they should be getting a lot more. One thousand Turkish liras is only about $472, which if the woman who lost her husband does not work and has children to take care of is very little to live off of –even if the allowance is a temporary give-out. This amount could most certainly be barely enough to feed the deceased miners' families, a silent panic that is flooding through Soma and resonating with citizens of Turkey.

"The amount of compensations can vary from case to case and depending on many factors," Attorney at law Dr. Harun Kılıç, founding partner of Kılıç & Partners explained to the Voice of Russia, then he added, "For example, income of the victim and the amount he spent on supporting his family, how old he was on the time of accident, the moral sufferings his family faces and the person who survived, we need to know the limit of harm inflicted." A couple hundred dollars though does not seem good enough for the families, even if it is just for starters.

Intentions from the government's side have shown its true colors, and in all actuality there is some form of aid being given to Turkey's affected. One nation has stepped up to give Turkey a helping hand but has not specified how much and how quickly this type of aid can be given to Turkey. "At times of tragedy we must all do what we can to help one another and we have offered Turkey whatever assistance you require at this time," Israeli President Shimon Peressaid in a letter to Turkish President Abdullah Gül, dated May 14, 2014. It has yet to be seen or announced if Turkey will take on assistance from Israel, however families in Soma would more than likely openly accept any form of support, given the fact that some of them have gone from having just one bread-winner in the household to none in a matter of minutes.

While matters of money are being put into question over how much each family should receive, the bigger question is who will have to foot such a heavy compensation bill or better yet, will that bill be a team effort, paid by multiple parties. Even though families have been open to getting financial compensation from government entities for the time being, they still have the right to later on sue the company, Soma Coal Enterprises Inc., or other related parties for its dealing with the mine accident. However, that route may be a rockier rather than richer one to take.

By taking the Soma mining company or even a government agency to court over the death of one, or many of the miners, a good chuck of time would need to be dedicated to court hearings and procedures along with a heap of cash for an attorney to represent the side of the victims' families. Therefore, a different pathway could be much more suitable for the majority of the mining families, who have very little cash to splurge on an all-out court hearing. "Maybe they can negotiate and they can find some solutions without any court cases, it is also possible," Dr. Kılıç stated in an interview with the Voice of Russia. Trying to negotiate with the responsible parties may also be a quicker way at getting the cash they need and simultaneously will not have to spend all their time in court.

Although, the Istanbul Bar Association's president and board members did drop by Soma on May 14, the day after the incident, to assess what had happened –families may still be lost in a sea of confusion over the entire mishap that took place just weeks ago. As Dr. Kılıç puts it, "they are still in shock and they need a little bit of time to see exactly and understand what should they try to do that in order to get some compensations from the responsible persons or company." So while good solid advice is coming to Soma, along with some form of financial help, they still have time to think over what they truly want to do, in the end to stay on their feet and more importantly in their homes.

Due to the country's worst mining disaster in its history, vital lessons can be found in the tightening of workplace safety and labor laws for present and future working standards in a nation with a population of over 76 million. "Miners shall be equipped with safety rooms, working gas masks, and miners shall be really really trained, not just on paper as for what to do in the case of an accident. Also existing rules shall be followed thoroughly at all times," Dr. Kılıç stated, adding that employers should not be fearful of losing their jobs if they report workplace violations.

While Turkey patches up its holes in the safety sector, perhaps they should look to China as an example of workplace safety improvement for inspiration. The People's Republic of China is the world's largest coal producers with scores of miners at work. In the last decade alone, China has pulled down the death count due to mining related accidents by 75 percent, according toCihan News Agency. China's secret to its decrease in deaths is quite simple—stricter regulations and the willingness and dedication to close down unsafe mines has led to fewer deaths in the risky profession. Compensation to the deceased families has increased most likely leaving companies more conscious of their safety precautions. As well, China has upped its usage of open-cut mines, in which coal is extracted from an open pit instead of through canal openings underground.

If Turkey learns to take on new safer standards and looks into China's model of mining, perhaps Turkey can regain the public's confidence in watching out for the people before eyeing down the profit. "It is hard to put a price on one's life you know," Dr. Kılıç said, giving his condolences to the families who have been affected by the mining accident. Every person's life is priceless, the victims and their families know this, the international arena agrees with this too, but let's be hopeful Turkey's governing body realizes that life is priceless and handing out very little compensation is shameful. Events are still unfolding in Soma—perhaps additional monetary aid will reach those who need it most, the ones scrapping by to survive.

Sarah Neary Read more:

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