European Federation of Journalists

Turkey: Sputnik lays off its unionized journalists

Credits: TGS.

The Turkish offices of the Russian news agency Sputnik, in Istanbul and Ankara, have just dismissed 24 unionized journalists who had decided to strike to obtain better working conditions. The strike was declared following the failure of negotiations on a new collective labor agreement, announced on Monday the Trade Union of Journalists of Turkey, TGS, affiliated to the European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ).

“Sputnik is firing our members instead of respecting their trade union rights and responding to their legitimate demands,” said TGS President Gökhan Durmuş. “The agency even went so far as to dismiss a union delegate, in defiance of the law. We demand the reinstatement of all the journalists unfairly dismissed”.

The strike was to begin on 17 August. But the management of the Russian agency Rossiya Segodnya International News (Sputnik) decided to dismiss the strikers, under the pretext of an economic restructuring which imposed a reduction in the workforce.

Turkish law prohibits any action by an employer to pressure workers into not joining a union or taking industrial action. “It is clear that the goal of the leaders of Sputnik is to smash the legitimate demands of Turkish journalists, in a context of low salaries and limited freedom“, insists the president of TGS.

“We call on all the journalists of Sputnik Turkey to remain united and to carry out their strike to obtain not only a fair salary increase, but also the reinstatement of all the dismissed journalists”, reacted the general secretaries of the EFJ and IFJ, Ricardo Gutiérrez and Anthony Bellanger. “We also call on the Turkish judicial authorities to launch the necessary legal proceedings against the leaders of Sputnik-Turkey”.

Similar strike actions have been carried out successfully by the TGS in other Turkish newsrooms, including local offices of the BBC, Reuters and AFP.