Turkey’s health workers go on strike over melting wages, working conditions

Turkey's health workers on Feb. 8 went on a nationwide one-day strike to demand an increase in their wages amid a soaring inflation as well as an improvement in their working conditions.

Duvar English

Turkey's health workers went on strike on Feb. 8 throughout the country upon the call of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), demanding that their working conditions be improved. Physicians asked citizens to support them by not applying to health institutions except in emergency cases during the day.

TTB announced the strike with the following statement: "We, whose labor is ignored, whose professional values are ignored, whose working conditions are unhealthy, and whose working areas are insecure, say, 'Enough is enough, now it's time for Strike!”

TTB demands a pay raise of at least 150 percent for health workers as well the improvement of working conditions. Turkey's annual inflation jumped to a 20-year high of 48.69% in January, but independent researchers put the figure at 114.87%.

The chair of the TTB Istanbul branch, Prof. Dr. Pınar Saip, joined the strikers at the premises of Istanbul University Hospital. 

"We know that the working conditions imposed on us and these misery wages are not a destiny...If our demands are not met, we would like to share with the public that we are ready to go on longer strikes," Saip said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, The New York Times prepared a comprehensive analysis about the worsening working conditions of Turkish healthcare workers and the doctors leaving the country. 

The report pointed out that Turkish doctors are overburdened and underpaid, and physical violence towards them is on the rise. 

“More than 13,000 health professionals lodged complaints that they had been subjected to violence at work in 2020, according to the Turkish Medical Association," the report said. 

"Doctors, worn down by grueling hours and violence, are emigrating in rising numbers, undermining one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s signature achievements."

The Turkish opposition has brought the issue of the brain drain of doctors from Turkey to parliament. According to their statistics, the number of doctors leaving the country has increased 24 times in the last decade.