The Türkiye/Turkey division of the Russian news agency Sputnik – Rossiya Segodnya International News Agency – has terminated the contracts of 24 journalists who embarked on a strike to advocate for improved pay and rights after negotiations for a new collective labor agreement fell through. This move was condemned by the Journalists’ Union of Türkiye/Turkey (Türkiye Gazeteciler Sendikas / TGS).
TGS accused Sputnik of disregarding union rights and the demands of the dismissed journalists, stating, “Stop committing crimes and get dismissed journalists back to work.”
Erkin Oncan, one of the fired journalists, expressed resolve on Twitter, vowing to continue their cause despite the dismissals. He labeled the decision as unlawful and affirmed, “No step back.”
Among the fired journalists is Atilla Guner, a senior journalist responsible for Radio Sputnik’s evening news program. While the reason cited for the dismissals was ‘downsizing’, Guner suggested that his support for the strike might be the underlying motive.
Despite Turkish law forbidding actions to discourage workers from joining unions or partaking in industrial actions, the rate of unionization among media personnel has decreased since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed power. However, recent times have witnessed more Turkish journalists resorting to strikes to enhance their working conditions amidst low wages and diminishing media freedoms.
On 8 August 2023 the Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) protested against Sputnik in front of the Sputnik office in Istanbul.
Sputnik is a Russian state-sponsored news agency and is used to promote Russian interests. In USA and West European countries Sputnik has a reputation as a Kremlin mouthpiece. In March 2022 the European Council decided to suspend the broadcasting activities of Sputnik’ and RT/Russia Today (RT English, RT UK, RT Germany, RT France, and RT Spanish) in the EU, or directed at the EU, until the aggression to Ukraine is put to an end, and until the Russian Federation and its associated outlets cease to conduct disinformation and information manipulation actions against the EU and its member states.
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