Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) fired 2,500 employees who refused to accept lower wages proposed by management following the expiration of a layoff ban imposed last year as part of pandemic measures, the Gazeteduvar news website reported on Friday, citing a THY employee.
Some 2,500 THY employees were laid off after the short-time working pay and the ban on laying off employees, introduced as part of COVID-19 measures, were lifted by the government on July 1, when THY management offered them lower wages in order to continue working, according to the report.
Both measures aimed to support businesses and registered employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The employees were laid off for failing to accept the proposal for a return to work, the T24 news website reported.
“They used the proposal to exert pressure on us and manipulate us so as to believe that we would be laid off. When we refused to accept it, they cancelled our contracts. We can’t repay our loans. Everyone has sold their cars [in order to pay their debts]. First, they halved our monthly salaries and then they fired us for refusing to accept the offer. We are all in a miserable state,” Gazeteduvar quoted THY employees as saying.
“I was being paid a net monthly salary of approximately TL 8,000 ($920) before the pandemic,” a THY employee who was laid off said, adding: “In an e-mail sent to us in September 2020, we were told that cabin crew salaries would be cut by 30 percent and those of cockpit crews by 50 percent for an indefinite period of time, and that if we did not accept it, we would be deemed to have resigned upon receiving our severance and notice pays. I did not accept it and was forced to take leave without pay. And on the day the ban to lay off employees was removed, I was fired.”
THY Press Adviser Yahya Üstün made a statement on the allegations on Twitter. “During the pandemic, Turkish Airlines and the trade union had signed an agreement to protect both our company and the employment of our colleagues. The labor contracts of 24 employees who did not accept this agreement were terminated as of July 1,” he tweeted.
THY had seen a decrease of 61.7 percent in the number of passengers carried during the January-September 2020 period compared to the previous year. The company had carried 21.6 million passengers in the first nine months of 2020, while it carried 56.4 million in the same period of 2019.