As a consequence of the failure to reach an agreement in the collective bargaining negotiations, BBC Istanbul employees hung the strike decision they took in the Gümüşsuyu BBC building today (January 14).
While the strike was supported by a number of journalists, a press statement was held with the participation of the Deputy of the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), Ahmet Şık.
The Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) Chair Gökhan Durmuş read the press statement.
"WE ARE STRIKING FOR OUR RIGHTS"
Unfortunately, we were not able to reach an agreement in collective bargaining talks launched on 9 August 2021 on behalf of journalists working at the BBC Istanbul bureau. As we launch this strike today, we declare that we will not give up without securing our rights.
For the past six months, we have explained to the BBC how the economic turmoil has melted the staff’s salaries. Inflation and the rising cost of living have caused a significant blow to purchasing power. Our demands under these deteriorating economic conditions are realistic and humane.
The Turkish Statistical Institute announced inflation as 36% in 2021, though independent economists put the figure as high as 82%. The BBC’s final offer of a 20% increase in pay during the talks will therefore not sufficiently address the meltdown in the staff’s wages.
The offer comes after the BBC gave Istanbul staff only a 7% pay increase in 2020, when official inflation in Turkey stood at 14.6%. We see that the BBC, which has not matched pay raises even to contested official inflation figures in recent years, does not grasp the severity of the situation.
The injustice is exacerbated by the devaluation of the Turkish lira, the worst performing emerging market currency in 2021. The currency’s collapse has reduced the cost to the BBC of the Istanbul staff’s wages, which are paid in liras, by nearly half.
We also do not accept that journalists in Istanbul, who are proud to work for the BBC, are refused a number of fundamental rights that are standard market practice in Turkey.
We see as discrimination the lack of recognition of some rights for Istanbul staff that are granted to BBC journalists in the UK and many other BBC bureaus.
We expected the BBC to respond positively to our calls and we tried extensively to solve the problems at the negotiation table. However, the offers we received were far from fair.
Until we receive a fair offer, this strike banner will remain here and our strike observers will be on watch every day. Our demands are reasonable and can be met by the BBC.
We have the right to expect a fair offer, acknowledging worsening conditions on the ground and respecting the rights of employees.
We will once again show that journalists are strong when united.