BBC journalists in İstanbul office go on strike for higher wages amid lira crisis

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Journalists working for the İstanbul bureau of the BBC went on strike on Friday after their demands for a pay raise due to the depreciation of the Turkish lira were not met by the company.

The strike began after collective bargaining talks between the BBC and the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS), which began in August, collapsed.

TGS tweeted that at a time when the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) put the country’s annual inflation rate at 36 percent but independent economists calculate it to be actually around 82 percent, the BBC is offering a raise of only 20 percent.

“As long as there’s no fair offer, we will continue [the strike] and not give up our struggle,” said the organization on behalf of the journalists.

Turkey’s wage earners are overwhelmed by the increasing prices and are finding it even harder to make ends meet since the annual rate of inflation surged to 36.1 percent in December after a currency crisis sparked by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s unconventional economic policies.

Consumer prices are up from 21.3 percent in November, according to TurkStat.

The figure is the highest since October 2002, when inflation reached 33.45 percent, before Erdoğan’s party came to power in November of that year.

The Turkish lira lost 44 percent of its value against the dollar last year, with the losses accelerating at the end of the year, when Erdoğan orchestrated a series of sharp interest rate reductions.

The dollar had reached a record high of nearly 18.4 lira to the dollar by the time Erdoğan announced new currency support measures last month.

The exchange rate has since slid to around 13 lira to the dollar, although the Turkish currency lost a further 2 percent after the rate of inflation was announced.

A dollar was worth 7.4 lira at the start of 2021.

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