Sputnik Turkish firing journalists after decision to strike: report

Members of the Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) hold a banner that reads "We want our rights. We demand our rights" as they protest against Turkish office of the Russian state owned agency Sputnik in Ankara, on July 24, 2023. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

The Turkish bureau of Russian state-owned news agency and radio broadcast service Sputnik has begun to fire journalists and media workers after they decided last month to go on strike, Turkish Minute reported, citing a Sputnik Turkish journalist.

Sputnik Turkish employees went on strike last month when collective bargaining talks between the media organization and the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) broke down.

TGS members posted notices on the walls of the Sputnik Turkish offices in Ankara and İstanbul indicating that the organization’s employees were on strike.

Journalist Atilla Güner from Sputnik Radio announced on his social media account on Monday that he had been fired by the media organization on the pretext of downsizing its newsroom.

Güner said the real reason behind his dismissal was his support for the Sputnik Turkish employees who are on strike. He said there are also many media workers at Sputnik Turkish who are TGS members and have been fired.

“Journalists have to explain the cause-and-effect relationship. A majority of colleagues have recently become TGS members and launched a fight for their rights. They could not agree on a deal [with the management of Sputnik Turkish] and decided to go on strike. I have given my support to the young journalists,” said Güner.

Meanwhile, the TGS on Monday called on Sputnik Turkish to stop committing a crime by firing journalists on strike and to re-employ those already let go.

The right to strike is guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution, with Article 54 stating that “workers have the right to strike in the event of a labor dispute arising during negotiations for the conclusion of a collective agreement,” but labor unions say it only exists on paper as workers face the risk of being fired when they go on strike.

The TGS tweeted that Sputnik Turkish is firing journalists instead of meeting their demands by respecting their union rights.

TGS Secretary-General İlkay Akkaya said last month that the employer threatened to fire 20 people during the collective bargaining talks.

Journalists, who are frequently subjected to physical attacks and legal harassment due to their profession in Turkey, are also hard-hit by an economic crisis in the country amid skyrocketing inflation and the continuous depreciation of the Turkish lira.

Turkey’s annual inflation stood at 47.83 percent in July, according to official data, although a separate study released by independent economists from the Inflation Research Group  (ENAG) who question the official data put the July figure at 122.88 percent, up from 108.6 percent in June.

The Turkish lira has lost around 30 percent of its value since late May.

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