Workers’ rights at Turkish broadcaster TRT under attack

Thursday 20 June 2019

At last week’s UNI Europa’s Executive Committee, members expressed their solidarity with staff at  Turkish public broadcaster TRT and at KESK HABER-SEN in condemning the recent attacks on them.

TRT is once again attempting to erode both the working conditions and the numbers of dedicated and experienced broadcasting professionals, who are committed to sustaining a public service mission. What we are witnessing is a systematic campaign to undermine the role of quality, free information, said Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig.


More than 160 TRT’s most qualified long-term workers are being downgraded, stripped of basic employment rights, labelled as “surplus employees” and dislocated to public institutions outside of the broadcasting sector. In their place agency contracted workers—so-called “Personnel Subject to the Provisions of Private Law” (with limited employment rights and benefits)—are being used.

This latest measure follows earlier manoeuvres that included restructuring processes, dismissals and transfers which targeted qualified experienced staff back in September 2018. Then, like today, we called on the Turkish government to respect the values of public service media and to guarantee TRT workers the conditions they are lawfully entitled to.

Frank Bsirske, UNI Europa President and leader of ver.di, Germany, said “The latest measures are another attack on journalists, media workers and free thinkers. Our solidarity goes out to all those who fight for the freedom of the press in Turkey. We will campaign for your rights and freedoms.”

UNI Europa fears that the future of public service broadcasting in Turkey will be compromised if the current oppression is not halted.

Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said: “We condemn the latest attacks on the independence of the public broadcaster TRT and the rights of its workers. The recent forced transfer of workers to other public institutions is wrong. We call on the Turkish government to change its course and to take back its decision.

Alke Boessiger, UNI Global Deputy General Secretary, added “The situation at TRT must change. Turkey needs a strong and independent public broadcaster with a staff free from fear to bring quality and impartial information to the citizens.

William Maunier, President of MEI, concluded “Since 2016, the Turkish government has continued to undermine the editorial, political and financial independence of the TRT. In addition, the government put pressure on TRT employees. Many were dismissed, transferred or side-lined. The latest measures imply a forced transfer of workers to other public institutions. All media unions in Europe declare their support for colleagues at TRT and HABERSEN. We will work with them to continue the campaign for a free and independent TRT and workers’ rights.

Read here below the call made at the Executive Committee:

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