The Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) workers affiliated with the Journalism and Communications Union Haber-Sen are under pressure for trying to fight for better conditions, social and economic rights as well as having TRT as an independent and unbiased public service broadcaster.
Haber-Sen member artists are banned from the screens and producers’ suggestions are disregarded.
TRT workers who are Haber-Sen members are not sent overseas for education programs.
Haber-Sen member executives are removed from office, constantly facing lawsuits for unionist actions.
Finally, a lawsuit was filed against a member of Haber-Sen Central Board of Directors and TRT journalist Osman Köse. Until the proceedings are over he is also suspended from his position.
But how did it come to this?
In 2002, TRT workers organized under Journalism, Communications and Postal Workers Union HABER-SEN. After two years of endless efforts 2 thousand out of the 7 thousand TRT workers became unionised.
As the AKP government appointed the new TRT General Director in 2004, the pressure started building up. The administrators forced TRT workers to resign from Haber-Sen.
After this kind of suppression, the number of Haber-Sen members from TRT dropped to 980 from 2 thousand.
During this period, the politics began invading the hiring protocols. The executives were picked not because of their experience and capabilities, but according to their affiliation with the political ideology of the government. People who were not broadcasters were appointed as executives to broadcasting units. There is not one executive position that hasn’t been re-assigned in the past five years. Some positions were changed even more than once.
The government altered the code of TRT in 2008. However, these alterations were not to increase independency and impartiality as mentioned in the European Union development reports; they were to allow the government to increase its hold over TRT.
With the alterations, a surplus of workers was given as an excuse to force workers to retirement. 994 experienced workers retired. Around 200 experienced broadcasters and executives were put out of commission and neutralized. Even though the reason was the surplus of workers, the TRT administration hired 803 new workers after June 29, 2009. The deciding factor for hiring was the candidates’ stance towards the ideas of the AKP government.
Most of the new personnel consist of workers from media organisations like Samanyolu TV, Daily Zaman, Aksiyon Magazine, Cihan News Agency and Channel 7, which are firm supporters of AKP. The transfers from these institutions were appointed to executive positions with high salaries. This became one of the primary causes destructing the work order in TRT.
After November 23, 2007 under the TRT General Director İbrahim Şahin, establishing a permanent staff from close relations and unlawfulness increased. Aside from these wrongdoings, Haber-Sen also exposed the abuse of public resources by the TRT administration to the public.
İbrahim Şahin established the high-level executive staff from people who were outside of TRT and not in broadcasting. He hired 20 workers from his birthplace Amasya, some of which are in executive roles.
İbrahim Şahin hired 97 people from outside TRT until June 29, 2009. Most of these people were not in broadcasting. There are even 3 policemen amongst the new personnel working in broadcasting stations.
By presenting the information and documents showing the political employments, unlawful acts and the interference to the contents of broadcasts, to the Parliament’s State Economic Enterprise Commission (KİT) assigned to regulate TRT, Haber-Sen allowed the events taking place in TRT to be carried to the Parliament’s agenda.
The TRT administration, uncomfortable of the situation increased the pressures on Osman Köse an executive of Haber-Sen, and his co-workers.
TRT workers who are Haber-Sen executives, Mehmet Demir, Yeşim Elibol, Fatih Eroğlu constantly faced investigations.
In order to hinder Osman Köse’s unionist actions, the TRT administration started sending him abroad more often.
To obstruct Osman Köse’s meeting with the Parliament, his office hours were changed. They also tried to send him overseas so that he could not observe the State Economic Enterprise Commission’s meeting on June 4 2009.
Even though Osman Köse gave a written explanation for being unable to accept the assignment because of legal obstacles, it was not accepted.
As a result, because he did not perform his assignment and observed the Parliament’s KİT Commission’s meeting without permission from the TRT administration, Osman Köse faced an investigation, with the demand to “end his job.” During the investigation, he was suspended from TRT.
The TRT administration forced Osman Köse’s co-workers to sign the official records they prepared. The domestic news editor who refused to sign was removed from office. The domestic news editor and two other journalists who refused to sign were transferred involuntarily.
Another editor who was a member of Haber-Sen was sent outside of the city for 30 days.
The member of Haber-Sen Central Board of Directors Osman Köse cannot work in TRT as a journalist right now. Even his entrance into the building he worked in, the News and Sports Broadcasting Department, is banned.
He cannot even enter as an administrator of a union to the places where he is banned from as a TRT worker.
The bulletins prepared by Haber-Sen to inform its members of the union’s actions cannot be distributed.
The investigation on Osman Köse is against the European Social Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO agreements as well as the Turkish Republic’s constitution.
The Amsterdam Protocol, an inseparable section of the agreement establishing the European Union places great importance to public broadcasting. It accepts that the public broadcasting in member countries are directly related to the democratic, social and cultural requirements of the society and the protection of pluralism in the media.
The September 19, 1996 decision, Role of the Public Service Television in a Multimedia Society of the European Parliament requires the guarantee of the independence of Public Service Broadcasters from political and economic interference.
Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) has been defined as independent and impartial in the constitution’s 133rd clause and the TRT codes. However, independence and impartiality remains on paper and TRT has always been under the control of the government. The government assigns the TRT Board of Directors and the General Director.
The administration, instead of fighting for the safeguarding of TRT’s independence and impartiality are pressuring Haber-Sen and its members who are working towards this goal.