The employees said that their dismissal was notified by letter and that several journalists’ access to their computer and e-mail accounts were blocked. Among the laid-off workers, there is a woman on maternity leave, a worker who was on compulsory military service and another journalist who was on medical leave, according to media reports. Vahap Munyar, Hürriyet’s editor-in-chief, said he was not aware of the layoffs and some of the newspaper's most notable columnists resigned in protest against the mass dismissal.
Some of the journalists who got fired denounced that the newspaper administration was targeting the increasing number of unionised journalists. The Journalists’ Union TGS confirmed in a statement that 43 of the dismissed journalists were TGS members and that the union was on the verge of clinching a historic majority in the newsroom to negotiate a collective agreement. According to TGS, Hürriyet violated Turkey’s constitution by targeting unionised journalists.
The IFJ and EFJ joined the TGS in calling on the management of Hürriyet to respect the workers' right to unionise and urge them to open a dialogue with the union representatives.
“No one can be forced to become a member or quit from the membership of a trade union. This is what Article 51 of the Republic of Turkey’s Constitution stipulates. Hurriyet fired 45 of our unionized colleagues last week. Some of them had spent half of their lives at Hurriyet and they have been fired only because they were members of our union”, said TGS President Gokhan Durmus.
Hürriyet, which was once the most influential newspapers in Turkey, was bought by the pro-government conglomerate Demirören Group and many of the critics say that the dismissals are part of the government’s plans to restrict freedom of speech.