BBC journalists warn of strike at Turkey office as union negotiations stall

Turkey’s Journalists’ Union (TGS) has hanged a decision to strike at the Istanbul office of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Talks for a collective labor agreement between TGS and BBC ended without a deal this week, as the union declared on Dec. 7 that the strike was imminent at the Turkish branch of the British public broadcaster.

“The employer’s representatives turned a deaf ear to the demands of their employees at [BBC’s] Istanbul bureau. They do not agree with us on a collective agreement in spite of our constructive efforts,” TGS said in a statement during the protest in front of the London-based media outlet’s office in Istanbul.

“We are ready to strike if they don’t come up with a reasonable offer,” the union’s statement added, as the written decision was hung by the journalists at the door of the BBC office.

BBC is the world’s oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees, employing over 22,000 staff in total.

Journalists with a Turkish placard that reads “Union for BBC”

The unionized journalists at BBC’s Istanbul office, whose salaries are paid in Turkish liras, seek fair conditions and compensation in line with the institution’s global norms for its employees. Despite the fact that the lira has lost around 80% of its value against the British pound since the start of 2021, the BBC management offered its Turkey-based journalists a 14% pay increase for the next year.

“Our demands to benefit from the same basic rights that BBC is presenting to its employees in other countries are not accepted. Enough is enough! Deal or strike!” the TGS said in the statement on Dec. 7.

Although the inflation rate announced by Turkey’s state-controlled Statistics Institution (TÜİK) stands at 21.31%, the real inflation as felt through the skyrocketing prices of basic products like dairies, meat, vegetables, and fruits is 58,6%, according to a group of independent economists.

The TGS had also hung a decision to strike at the Istanbul office of Agence France-Press (AFP), the Paris-based global news agency, on Sept. 10, over similar concerns.

“Our colleagues at AFP’s Turkey branch are not demanding an extortionate raise. They are only trying to protect their wages in the face of inflation,” the union had then said.


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