Turkey’s private school teachers demand job security, living wages 

Private school teachers across Turkey repeated their demand for fair wages and secure employment after over 200 teachers were laid off. The move came despite Education Minister Yusuf Tekin’s reassurements about securing their demands from school owners. 

The Private Sector Teachers' Union hold a protest with a banner reading, "We will get what is ours."

Duvar English

Over 200 teachers at Turkey’s prominent private schools like Bilfen, Okyanus, İTÜ, TED, Doğa, Denizatı, and İstek entered the holiday season unemployed. The common factor among teachers dismissed from various private schools was their demand for livable wages and decent working conditions.

According to reporting by the daily Evrensel, a teacher dismissed from Bilfen recalled that in early 2024 they started wearing black at various campuses as a form of protest in response to dissatisfaction over salary increases.

"We tried to voice our concerns on social media and at our workplaces through these actions. Bilfen management resorted to mobbing and intimidation tactics. However, our struggle ultimately led to some gains," the teacher said.

The education worker highlighted that Bilfen's management noted those who protested by wearing black and waited until the end of the academic year to act. 

They continued, "At the end of the academic year, when job search opportunities are limited, many teachers who wore black were informed that they would not be retained for the next year. Due to the absurdity of fixed-term contracts and Bilfen's hostile stance, we will spend this summer job-hunting.”

The teachers would continue to resist and organize until the intolerance and the division between public and private sector teachers ended.

Evin Turgut, Istanbul Representative of the Private Sector Teachers' Union, noted that with the start of the summer holiday and the renewal period of fixed-term contracts, many unionized teachers were dismissed from various private schools. 

Turgut explained that they were used to being laid off during the summer months thanks to the insecurity imposed by fixed-term contracts. School owners aimed to prevent severance pay accumulation and avoid paying salaries.

But this time, the teacher dismissals were entirely due to unionization. “Teachers whose demands were ignored expressed their dissatisfaction by wearing black, leaving pens in front of their schools, or staging applause protests. Almost all of the more than 200 teachers dismissed were those who participated in these rights-seeking actions," Turgut said.

Emphasizing that they would not remain silent in the face of these dismissals, Turgut stated, "We reject being condemned to insecurity with fixed-term contracts, which are used to threaten us every time we try to demand our rights. We will secure all our rights, especially our right to a base salary, for secure employment and professional dignity."