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
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
"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