In February 1965, the Agriculture Bank, was giving away 7.5 million liras of lottery money. A fridge cost 2,500 liras, payable in monthly installments of 100 liras.
The Prime Minister introduced his deputy Süleyman Demirel to the President. A miner's daily pay was 11 to 13 liras for a 16-hour shift.
On the night of March 10, 1.500 miners in Gelik asked why they were denied the additional premium distributed to managers, engineers, foremen and loyal workers.
It was hard to get them back down again.
But once asked, the question demanded a response. Workers in other pits in the area were also determined to get an answer. They didn't go down, held the pit entrances and didn't allow others to pass; scabs who came by train were not even allowed off.
Despite the government and the union describing it as “illegal”, the strike began. 900 workers from another pit joined the resistance.
On March 11, towards midnight, Kozlu workers came up, closed off the bridge and erected a roadblock.
The management came, failing to calm the miners, they backed off. Mr. Mayor had to leave his office. Before he went to the workers, he called in the navy. Because when he tried to hector the workers back to the mine, they booed him.
The gendarmes caught a few miners and dragged them across the ground. The workers’ patience ran out, the mayor and the gendarmes, firing warning shots, fled.
This is when the Navy engaged in some kind of landing operation.
In the early hours of March 12, the directors and gendarmes fleeing from the workers took refuge behind the marines... then the workers came. They bared their breasts to the rifles pointed at them. The marines opened fire.
Miners Satılmış Tepe and Mehmet Çavdar were killed, one of them immediately, the other on the way to hospital. The miners were unstoppable. They fought face to face with the soldiers. They drove them back. 10 workers, 12 soldiers were injured.
On March 12, state offices in Zonguldak were evacuated and the streets abandoned to the army. A rumor that the workers would sack the city was spread deliberately. 10 thousand soldiers with artillery besieged the city. Jets flew over to intimidate the workers, leaflets were dropped.
It was like war. The government, having previously declared the radio to be neutral, censored news. And the propaganda began:
The president of the state-controlled union claimed “a handful of hoodlum communists forced the workers to drink alcohol,” so that they “unflinchingly faced a hail of bullets.” The government claimed “foreign provocation.” 100 workers were arrested.
Three ministers came at once and promised the workers demands would be met.
They lost two comrades but seemingly had managed to give quite a fright to the powers that be. From now on, premiums would be distributed equally, wages and work hours improved, foremen would quit abusing workers, child and cloth allowances reintroduced.
In five hours, the miners carried the coffin of their comrade, murdered by state-bullets, to his village; to his newborn daughter who he had never seen; then they went back to work.
Six days later, there was an explosion at a pit in Merzifon with 69 dead. As we know, the most common method of killing miners isn't by gunshot.
Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca wrote the "Zonguldak Elegy", concerning the 1965 miners' revolt: “Coal, distant, black, deep / Your huge hands vanished underground / You work for years, your daily wages ten liras / You are hungry, the roaring pits remain silent / Let your flat feet slip into the clay / The marchers they kill, you know that well.”
Although aware of this, the miners rallied again in February 1968. It was still a week before the president of the state-controlled union declared, “Prime minister Süleyman Demirel is the pride of this country.” The workers felt they were being deceived. Seven thousand workers entered the city, and despite the teargas, they marched on the union building.
Yet's hear it now from Eric Burdon: Sixteen Tons
Representing the Military, the supposed leader of the land after the March 27 1960 coup d’etat, Cemal Gürsel, on the left, the fresh leader of the opposition to the army, but a future spokesman for it, Süleyman Demirel, and in the middle, the civil face of the military state, Suat Hayri Ürgüplü. It was this coalition that the workers would always meet before the bosses.
The "Akşam" (Evening) newspaper of the era was an exception to the other papers which always took great pains to write that the miners shot by soldiers were killed by “stray bullets… when shots were fired in the air”.
The workers take their fallen comrade home to his village. “Milliyet” (The Nation) photographer Özdemir Gürsoy took this photo, which over the years took on a symbolic force as the emblematic image of the workers’ movement used on socialist posters, banners and publications.
Yeniçeltek- another accident. This time in February 1990. They gather in suspense: “ Will our loved one make it out ?” Quite a few won’t. 66 die!
The head of the state union (Türk-İş) Seyfi Demirsoy. He was in charge of the union for 13 years -his position could not even be questioned- and managed in his tenure to never leave any doubt as to who he really represented; the state against the workers, of course. He was instrumental in preventing any unionist movement that sought to fight for workers’ rights from gaining any ground in any state enterprises. In recognition of his great service they named a neighborhood, a school and a hospital after him.
In this episode of the film many “scenes” are "constructed" with different parts of different photos.