This study examines the forms of state domination over mine tabour and the struggles of coalminers at the Zonguldak coalfield during World War II. It is focused on the everyday experiences of compulsory workers as reflected in petitions by those workers and the surveillance materials of the single-party regime at the time. Its aim is to reveal how, under an authoritarian regime, compulsory workers created a political agency. The compulsory labour system was one of the most coercive devices with which the state controlled mine tabour between 1940 and 1947, but the compulsory workers negotiated with the political elite for their living and working conditions, and did so within a political sphere which had been devised by the ruling elite as a governmental strategy for managing and shaping the population. By subverting the political discourse of the ruling elite, the miners contributed not just to the development of workers' rights, but also helped reveal the merits of a democratic society.