Turkish ministry threatens to impose sanctions on health workers who plan to go on strike

The Turkish Health Ministry has sent a letter to the country’s provincial health directorates threatening to issue warnings and sanctions for health workers who plan to go on strike again in March.

Turkish health workers on Feb. 8 went on a nationwide one-day strike.

Duvar English

Health workers across the country had gone on strike on Feb. 8 demanding fair wages and an end to violence they suffer at the hands of patients. Yet after the Health Ministry paid no heed to their demands, health workers announced they would go on strike once again.

Upon their decision, the Health Ministry sent a letter to the provincial health directorates, threatening to issue sanctions and warnings for health workers who intend to go on strike again in March.

The Ministry referred to article 56 of Turkey’s Constitution, stating that "the state regulates health institutions to plan and provide services from a single source in order to ensure that everyone lives in physical and mental health, and to realize cooperation by increasing savings and efficiency in human and material power."

It also referred to the Civil Servants Law No. 657, emphasizing that “it is forbidden for civil servants to deliberately withdraw from civil service together or to not attend their duties, to take actions that result in slowing down or disrupting state services."

Finally, it warned that “any behavior that results in the health care workers leaving the health public service should be evaluated within the framework of the provisions of the disciplinary legislation.”

Necmettin Yıldızbakan who serves as both a doctor and a lawyer, described the Ministry’s letter as “a stick under a cloak” and said it was unlawful.

“The health workers carried out the protest in accordance with the principle that everyone has the right to organize peaceful meetings, demonstrations and marches without permission, which is stated in Article 34 of the Constitution,” Yıldızbakan said.

“Moreover, the health workers’ struggle is just and will not disrupt the health system. Emergencies work properly,” he added.