Turkish Teachers join Public Sector Strike
Turkish Teachers demonstrating last Wednesday
Teachers in Turkey joined a general strike of the public sector last Wednesday
On 21st December KESK (Confederation of Public Employees) organized a general strike in the public sector. The two biggest affiliate unions of KESK; Egitim Sen (Education and Science Workers Union) and SES (Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services) together with all public sector workers and unions went on strike against the harsh neoliberal and anti-democratic policies imposed by the AKP government. The main motivation for KESK to take the strike decision was the upcoming legal amendments which still don’t recognize public workers’ right to strike nor the right to collective bargaining, which is consistent with ILO conventions. However, taking their power from their internationally accepted legitimate right, public workers joined in the strike today.
A more crucial point was precarious employment types becoming widespread in the public sector. (Subcontracting, temporary working, outsourcing, performance pay…). They also demanded increase in salaries and pensions and they protested against the repressions and anti-democratic attitude of the ruling powers in Turkey. Journalists, professors, unionists, students… Many people who use their democratic right to criticize the government and the existing policies are under the threat of detention, imprisonment, exile and police violence. 25 people who are members of Egitim Sen and KESK were given prison sentences recently.
(for detailed information about the campaign please visit: http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=1202 and http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/news_details/2042 )
Teachers and all education workers took to the streets to defend public education and free public services. The expenditure of households per student increased 4.5 times since the AKP government took power. More of the education expenditures are financed by the families each year who are taken as citizens by the neoliberal system. During the same period, education investments decreased by more than a half. The number of private courses for students’ preparation for standardized tests exploded just like the number of private schools.
In Turkey, the ratio of temporary employment increased from 6% to 25% in last the 10 years. Teachers can’t escape precarious employment if they can’t pass the centrally organized standardized test for public employees selection which obviously can not be an indicator of professional competence as a teacher. It just leaves a candidate teacher no way but to work as cheap labour in schools as temporary teachers or in private courses. (also see : http://www.teachersolidarity.com/blog/unemployed-turkish-teachers-in-nationwide-protests/ ) Not to mention the increasing retirement age, teachers and other public employees are also suffering the privatized and marketized health system. Each time they have to visit the hospital, they now have to pay more “contributions”.
Teachers thinking that the strike should cover all parties suffering from neoliberalized public service supply, invited also parents and students to the streets to demonstrate together against this cruel game. Teachers marched and gathered infront of the ministry of education while health sector workers were in front of the Ministry of Health. On 21st December, the day of longest darkness, workers have shown that they’ll go on their struggle for a brighter future.