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Sputnik Turkish employees ask for support as they mark 100th day of strike

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Employees from the Turkish bureau of Russian state-owned news agency and radio broadcast service Sputnik have asked for support from their colleagues and others as Friday marks the 100th day of a strike they launched in August, the Birgün daily reported.

The Sputnik Turkish employees went on strike on Aug. 17 after their demands for a pay hike and the re-employment of their colleagues who were fired went unmet.

Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) representative for Sputnik Turkish Nejdet Eksilmez called on labor unions, press organizations and political party representatives to gather at Süzer Plaza in Beşiktaş, where the offices of Sputnik Turkish are located, on Friday and show solidarity with the Sputnik journalists.

“We know they will not abandon us,” he said.

Twenty-four Sputnik Turkish journalists who joined the TGS were fired in early August on the pretext of the downsizing the newsroom due to financial problems.

Sputnik Turkish employees decided to go on strike when collective bargaining talks between the media organization and the TGS broke down.

Journalists, who are frequently subjected to physical attacks and legal harassment due to their profession in Turkey, are also hard-hit by an economic crisis in the country amid skyrocketing inflation and the continuous depreciation of the Turkish lira.

Turkey’s annual inflation stood at 61.36 percent in October, according to official data, although a separate study released by independent economists from the Inflation Research Group  (ENAG) who question the official data put the October figure at 126.18 percent, up from 130.13 percent in September.

TGS says Sputnik Turkish executives fired 24 journalists, violating the country’s laws and constitution in a bid to intimidate others and to prevent more of them from becoming labor union members.

The right to strike is guaranteed in the Turkish Constitution, with Article 54 stating that “workers have the right to strike in the event of a labor dispute arising during negotiations for the conclusion of a collective agreement,” but labor unions say it exists only on paper since workers face the risk of being fired when they go on strike.

Sputnik Turkish employees say they will continue their strike until their dismissed colleagues are reinstated and the demands of the TGS for the journalists for better pay are met.

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