EFJ Concerns over Turkish News Agency's Anti-union Tactics

Today the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has hit out at the management of state-run Anatolian Agency after reports of severe management pressure on members of the Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS), which has driven the union's President to threaten a hunger strike.

Ercan Ipekci, President of the EFJ affiliate in Turkey, has announced plans to go on hunger strike in front of the General Directorate of the state-run Anatolian Agency from 12:00 today (Friday March 9). He says the move is in protest against the way in which union members have been put under pressure by the government-assigned management of the news agency to resign their membership of the TGS.

It is understood that the union President has been singled out by management as a target in a campaign of intimidation intended to undermine support for the union. Ercan Ipekci has been a leading figure in the campaign challenging the imprisonment of more than 100 journalists in Turkey. This has resulted in him and his union being targeted by the Turkish authorities, as proven by a recent speech by the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.

"There have been many reports of the tactics used by the state and employers in Turkey to intimidate union members and obstruct the ability of trade unions to represent their members. This case has the stink of yet another example of the intolerable pressure under which trade unionists in Turkey have to operate," said EFJ President Arne König. "It is deeply concerning that people feel that they have to go to such extreme measures in order to stand up for their principles."

Attempts to introduce collective bargaining at the Sabah newspaper were undermined in 2009 when pressure was put on trade union members to resign their membership. A similar case happened in Olay Medya last year.

A report published by the International Trade Union Congress in February found that "legal protection from acts of interference [in Turkey] is weak and sanctions for anti-union discrimination are not dissuasive. The state and the employers make use of various anti-union practices that have weakened trade unions' negotiating rights."

As the trials of journalists in the so-called OdaTV case are set to resume next Monday, 12 March, the EFJ protests against the intimidation of TGS members, fully supports the union's President and member of the EFJ Steering Committee, Ercan Ikpeci, and calls on the European authorities to remind the Turkish government that press freedom and free trade unionism are essential values of democracy.

The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists. It represents over 260,000 journalists in 30 countries.

For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200