Turkish police clash with workers in Ankara

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Turkish police have clashed with protesting workers outraged at a government decision to privatize their plant.

The clashes erupted after police tried to disperse workers of the Yatagan thermal plant, who chained themselves to the entrance gate of the Energy Ministry in Ankara.

The workers gathered outside the ministry as part of a demonstration against the privatization of their plant and against a recent deadly mine accident in the western town of Soma.

Security sources say the riot police arrested at least 15 workers at the protest rally.

The group of workers shouted slogans saying “Work-related death should be prevented”, “No to privatizations and subcontracting” and “Yatagan will not be Soma”.

The development comes as the government has submitted a bill to parliament in a bid to improve safety in mines following the Soma disaster earlier this month. More than 300 miners lost their lives in the tragedy.

The May 13 blast at Soma has sparked protests in several towns and cities across Turkey. The government is under fire for what is seen as its failure to protect and rescue trapped workers.

Ankara is accused of failing to implement proper safety measures. Turkish media say Ankara rejected calls to inspect mines in the Soma region, only weeks before the deadly coal-mine disaster.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to launch investigations into the cause of the incident. However, he has rejected claims of the government’s culpability in the deadly disaster.

The International Labor Organization says Turkey had the highest number of work deaths in Europe in 2012, and the third highest in the world. Over 1,000 Turkish miners were killed from 2002 to 2012.

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