Twelve staff members at the Istanbul bureau of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) launched a strike on Friday after they failed to reach an agreement with the British broadcaster over their salaries. Labor activists and the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) joined the staff on the first day of the strike. The TGS represented the staff at collective bargain talks with the BBC that began last year but fell apart when the British company offered a lower pay raise than the employees had requested. The union has said that the BBC's final offer, which was a 20% pay increase, did "not sufficiently address the meltdown in the staff's wages. A BBC spokesperson quoted by Reuters said it understood staff concerns and had implemented a pay increase and made an additional benefits offer, with "mechanisms in place to support staff financially during sustained volatility."
The staff hung a banner declaring the strike outside the Istanbul offices of the BBC in the Beyoğlu district, while TGS Chair Gökhan Durmuş made a press statement. Durmuş said they would not end the strike until they "get what they deserve." He said the staff's demands were "realistic" under the current economic situation but the BBC, "which offered a 7% pay increase in 2020 when the official inflation figure was 14.6%, offered a similar number in 2021 as well. We see the BBC do not grasp the gravity of the situation as they offered an increase far below the inflation rate in two consecutive years," he said. He said the BBC also acted in a discriminatory manner by depriving "some basic rights" of the Istanbul bureau staff it had offered to the staff other offices of the company across the world and in its base in the United Kingdom.
"Our demands are reasonable and are affordable for the BBC. We are determined to win and we will win because we are right. We will show the journalists are strong together," Durmuş said.