Turkish journalists' unions slam gov't for restricting early retirement right to only press card holders

Turkish journalists' unions have slammed the government for granting the right to early retirement to only official press card holders. “It is not necessary to hold a press card to do journalism; this profession is also quite exhausting without the existence of a press card,” DİSK Basın-İş, a trade-union for journalists, said in a statement.

People hold symbolic press cards during a rally in front of the Istanbul Courthouse in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 July 2017. (FreeTurkeyJournalists platform photo)

Duvar English

Turkish journalists' unions have each released a statement demanding that special rights granted to journalists holding a press card, such as early retirement, extended to everyone working in the press.

According to a legislation adopted by Turkish parliament in 2013, journalists can benefit from certain rights, such as early retirement, due to the exhausting nature of their profession. With this legislation, every four years of seniority worked as a journalist count as five years, enabling them to retire one-quarter period of employment earlier than professionals in other lines of work.

However, Turkish parliament passed legislation on Nov. 12 saying that early retirement can apply only if the journalist holds a press card. The legislation was accepted with the votes of the deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its coalition ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). 

“We have said many times that the card provided by the state is not an indicator of journalism. It is not necessary to hold a press card to do journalism; this profession is also quite exhausting without the existence of a press card. The burnout right should not be just provided to journalists, but everyone working in the press, including those in the printing house,” said the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) in a statement.

The current press law in Turkey doesn't allow digital media journalists to have press cards. Internet journalists are classified in the office workers sector, in other words not recognized as journalists by the government.

Also, recent regulations undertaken by the government have made it more difficult to obtain a press card. Large numbers of journalists critical of the ruling AKP have had their press cards revoked or their applications for renewal denied in recent years.

After the dissolution of the prime ministry, the issuing of press cards was transferred to the authority of the presidency in 2018. A commission established by the presidency responsible for issuing the cards is composed of journalists from a number of state-run and pro-government outlets and newspapers.