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Sputnik Turkish employees go on strike over unmet demands

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Employees from the Turkish bureau of Russian state-owned news agency and radio broadcast service Sputnik went on strike after their demands for a pay rise and the reemployment of their colleagues who were recently fired went unmet.

Twenty-four Sputnik Turkish journalists who recently joined the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) were fired earlier this month on the pretext of the downsizing the newsroom due to financial problems.

Sputnik Turkish employees decided to go on strike last month when collective bargaining talks between the media organization and the TGS broke down.

The journalists made a press statement in front of the Sputnik Turkish office in İstanbul on Thursday after the start of their strike.

The press statement was read out by TGS Chairman Gökhan Durmuş.

Durmuş said although they had some 10 meetings with Sputnik Turkish representatives and demanded an improvement in the working conditions of the journalists amid an ongoing economic crisis in the country, the representatives did not even make an offer for a pay increase.

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.

Durmuş said after wasting their time for months, the Sputnik Turkish executives fired 24 journalists, violating the country’s laws and constitution.

He said the purpose of the firings was to intimidate others and to prevent more of them from becoming labor union members.

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 exists only on paper since workers face the risk of being fired when they go on strike.

“This strike is the strike of all journalists who work without insurance and with alow pay in Turkey,” Durmuş added.

Sputnik Turkish employees will continue their strike until their dismissed colleagues are reinstated and the demands of the TGS for the journalists for better pay are met.

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