Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR
Former civil servants who have been sacked in waves of purges after the 2016 coup attempt are finding it impossible to land jobs because they are registered in state records as having been dismissed by state of emergency decrees, making employers reluctant to hire them.
The former employees are registered in state records as having been sacked by state of emergency decrees (KHK) under "code 37" by the Social Security Institution (SGK), to which employers have access when recruiting employees.
At least 125,678 public workers were dismissed from their jobs in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt, including tens of thousands of teachers, police officers, prosecutors, judges, academics and others over alleged links to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt or what the Turkish government has labelled as terrorism.
Many have not been able to find jobs for the past six years and have hit dead-ends in job applications. Many of the potential employees get past most of the stages of the recruitment process, but are rejected after employers see they’ve been dismissed and are registered under code 37.
There is no legal obstacle preventing employers from hiring such candidates, but many avoid recruiting them.
A former civil servant, Mesut applied for all the jobs he came across in the southern province of Mersin, saying he would take anything he can get.
He got called for an interview with e-commerce giant Trendyol for a job in the delivery section. He had finally got his foot in the door after long seeking a job and was almost going to start at the company.
When he was asked to provide documents required for the company to register his national insurance, he was asked whether he had been dismissed by a decree. The employers told him they could not employ dismissed civil servants. Trendyol wasn’t available for a comment.
“I told them this was against human rights and that they were being discriminatory. They didn’t listen to me and said, ‘This is the decision the company has made’,” he said. Mesut has since stopped searching for a job.
Bünyamin Karataş is a former police officer. He was dismissed in 2016 and has applied for menial jobs at markets and carpet factories since.
“Almost 99 percent of the bosses have shut the door on me,” he said.
He was hired by a furniture company and the employers knew about his past. But a senior manager scolded the employers that hired him and told them to fire him. He was told to take an unpaid leave during the pandemic and was the first to be laid off.
Later, he applied for a job at the discount retailer ŞOK Market. He was shut out when the recruiters found out he was registered under code 37. The employers were reluctant on hiring a person dismissed from a state job.
“The boss told me, ‘If we hire you, we would get into trouble; we will be on bad terms with the government’,” he recalled.
ŞOK Market refused to comment on his recruitment process, saying the information was “confidential.”
The impact of the decrees played out differently for former civil servants in different sectors. While legally those dismissed via decrees can be recruited in the private sector, former employees of the Education Ministry have faced even more difficulty, as teachers’ work permits were also terminated.
Ramazan Tekin, a dismissed teacher, was denied a license for a café he opened in Mersin. He was told by the municipality of the district of Anamur that he would not be given the license because of a security investigation into him due to his dismissal.
He had to permanently close his café. He was also told he could not be hired by a private school he applied to for a teaching position.
“They are not helping us. And those that want to step back out of fear that they could get in trouble,” Tekin said.
* This article has been prepared in the scope of the “New Generation of Investigative Journalism Training Project” which is implemented by Media Research Association in cooperation with ICFJ (International Centre for Journalists).