EURO-MEI President William Maunier and UNI MEI’s Johannes Studinger undertook a mission to Turkey in September to meet and support the leadership and members of UNI affiliate HABERSEN-KESK. The mission is part of UNI MEI’s long-term campaign in support of HABERSEN’s efforts to strengthen the trade union rights and media independence in Turkey. Since the failed coup of 2016, media workers have been facing multiple attacks. Thousands of media workers have been dismissed, suspended or, in case of public media workers, transferred. Several solidarity actions  directed at Turkish authorities and the management of public media institutions that have been undertaken during the last three years aimed at backing the demands and proposals of HABERSEN. However, the multiple requests for dialogue did not produce positive responses from the Turkish authorities and management of public media institutions until recently.

During the UNI MEI mission in September some progress has been made.  Members of the HABERSEN Executive Committee and the UNI MEI delegation had several constructive and frank dialogue sessions with management of Turkish public broadcaster, TRT and the chair as well as members of the media regulatory authority RTÜK. The union represents workers in both institutions and is very concerned with the future employment and conditions of the many workers that have been recently transferred. Both, TRT and RTÜK committed to a structural dialogue with HABERSEN on this matter.

Before meeting with authorities and employers, meetings with union members and non-union members  (the photo above shows  the meeting at the union office) allowed to collect many testimonies from colleagues  that have been suspended or transferred from public broadcaster, TRT and the media regulatory authority RTÜK. Many colleagues are very skilled and senior staff who have successfully worked for many years in production, news and other departments. Today they find themselves in new positions, in a different public institution without recognition of their skills and experience. In many cases, there are no real jobs. The delegation could convey its assessment of the situation during the meetings with management and called on the leadership of TRT and RTÜK to re-assess these transfers and sustain a dialogue with HABERSEN.

As a first follow-up, EURO-MEI President, William Maunier will report on the mission during the next European social dialogue of the audiovisual sector that involves EBU, the European association of public service broadcasters. TRT is a leading member of the EBU and we seek to engage a dialogue with EBU about the possibility promoting jointly the social dialogue in TRT. The European Executive will consider further actions in consultation with HABERSEN during its next meeting on 17 October.