Europe-wide Backing for Media Strike in Turkey

Journalists' leaders from across Europe have pledged support for

journalists and media staff in a strike which is at the heart of a struggle for

union rights and for press freedom in Turkey.

The annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), held

in Varna, Bulgaria at the weekend applauded the action of journalists in

membership of the Journalists' Union of Turkey (TGS) who have been on strike at

ATV television and Sabah daily newspapers and magazines group since 13 February

this year.

The significance of the battle is not lost on journalists in Europe

where many union groups are fighting for basic rights. This is the first media

strike to hit Turkey for almost 30 years and highlights, say union  leaders, the gulf between Turkey's claims to

be democratic and the reality of  its

disregard for European Union social policy and the labour standards of the International

Labour Organization.

"It's time for the government of Turkey to show respect for basic rights

and standards if it wants to be seriously considered a credible democracy

suitable for membership of the European Union," said Aidan White, EFJ General

Secretary at the Varna meeting. "Journalists must be allowed the right to

organise without intimidation."

The EFJ says that the Turkish government must tell the employer at ATV

and Sabah to respect the social and economic rights of the journalists and to

start talks to end the strike over the right to organise and the absence

of  "a culture of fairness in industrial

relations" that exists across much of the Turkish media.

"If journalists and workers are not treated fairly it is impossible to

talk about press freedom in the newsrooms," said White. "Denial of union rights

and social protection only creates low morale and reduces the capacity for

challenging and quality journalism."  

The EFJ also highlighted the fact that the Turkish government is still

failing to address the problem of judicial intimidation of media in the country

with a number of court cases againsts journalists, 29 of them are in prison, under

the Penal Code and Anti-Terror Law which has been toughened up by the

government.  The EFJ says that the

journalists' fundamental right to organise is vital for ensuring the editorial

independence of the media.

The EFJ is calling on the government to insist that collective

bargaining is restarted between the union and the ATV-Sabah media group. If

this does not happen there are plans to raise the issue in the context of negotiations

between the European Union and  Turkey over

membership of the community.

For more information contact the EFJ

at   +32 2 235 2202

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists

in 30 countries