BBC journalists in Turkey ‘won’ after historic strike over pay injustice

Journalists' "victory" was publicly announced by TGS in front of BBC Istanbul bureau on Jan. 29, 2022. Photo: TGS

Journalists at the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Istanbul bureau have ended their historic strike over pay injustice after declaring that they “have won.” The Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) announced on Jan. 29 that they agreed on a one-year deal with the BBC management in London that includes a 32% annual pay raise and benefits. “The BBC Istanbul bureau employees’ success is only a beginning,” TGS said, thanking for the international solidarity of journalists across the world.

Talks for a collective labor agreement between TGS and BBC had ended without a deal on Dec. 7, 2021, and the strike at the international media outlet’s Istanbul bureau was launched on Jan. 14.

The unionized BBC journalists, whose salaries are paid in Turkish liras, say they seek fair conditions and compensation in line with the institution’s global norms for its employees.

Turkey’s official inflation rate stands at 36%, while independent economists warn that the real inflation is 82%. The BBC management, however, initially offered their employees in the Istanbul bureau a mere 10% of annual pay raise.

The BBC strike was the first one in a news media outlet in Turkey in the last 13 years. A banner that read “There is a strike at this workplace” has been hung at the entrance of BBC’s Istanbul bureau as striking journalists kept watch.

After two weeks, TGS and striking journalists announced during a press conference in the Gümüşsuyu neighborhood of Taksim on Jan. 29 that they reached a deal with the BBC management. The one-year deal includes an annual pay raise of 32% and several benefits.

Here is the full statement of TGS, published on Jan. 29:

We have won!

We are ending the strike we started with our members’ decision on 14 January 2022, following a one-year agreement with the BBC reached through a joint decision on 28 January.

Before the strike, the employer came to the table offering a 10% raise and almost no other complementary rights.

At the end of the strike, as a result of the agreement, our members have won:

– An annual pay raise of 32%
– Private health insurance for their families
– Daily 60 TL lunch vouchers in gross
– 1,200 TL support for eyeglasses/contact lenses in gross

The BBC Istanbul bureau employees’ success is only a beginning. The motivation and morale given by the strike will encourage colleagues experiencing lack of security, low wages and poor working conditions in the media sector to unite and fight under the Union’s roof.

Thank you

We thank the president, chair and members of the UNI Global Union, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Turk-Is), of which we are a member, for their unwavering support before the strike and during the resolution of the disagreement

We also thank the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at BBC London, specifically their representatives in the BBC World Service, BBC Monitoring and the BBC Turkish Service for their valuable efforts.

We thank the BBC employees in the UK and across the world, who supported our members throughout the process, for their solidarity.

We thank the NGOs and political party representatives who came to the strike area and conveyed their support over the phone.

Lastly, we sincerely thank all our journalist colleagues who were with us from the first day of the strike and who sent messages of solidarity.

Lastly, we sincerely thank our journalist colleagues and all supporters who have been with us from day one, who have shared support messages on social media, visited us, and shared their feelings of solidarity.

The previous strike in the media sector in Turkey was in 2009. Foreign media in Turkey had never gone on strike before the BBC Istanbul bureau. This is the first strike in decades to have ended successfully with a collective bargaining agreement.

The hard won gains we achieved are important for all our colleagues and friends who work in both local and international media and will become a reference point in the future. Through professional solidarity we thrive.


The Journalists’ Union of Turkey


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