Turkish health workers strike for better pay, conditions

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Members of the Turkish Medical Association gather outside the Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. Healthcare workers go on strike nationwide to protest working conditions and low pay. The banner reads:
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The Associated PressMembers of the Turkish Medical Association gather outside the Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. Healthcare workers go on strike nationwide to protest working conditions and low pay. The banner reads: ” We are on strike, we will struggle until we get our rights.” (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ISTANBUL — Thousands of Turkish healthcare workers, frustrated by an erosion of their income, went on a one-day strike Tuesday demanding better pay and improved working conditions.

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Members of the Turkish Medical Association and other unions also staged protests in Ankara and in Istanbul, demanding increased wages, which now for some stand currently only slightly above the national minimum wage.

Demands also included shorter shifts, measures to protect them against increased verbal and physical assaults from patients or their relatives, and for COVID-19 infections among healthcare workers to be classified an an occupational hazard.

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Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel tending to critical patients and emergencies did not participate in the strike.

“We want our wages and personal rights to improve,” said Prof. Osman Kucukosmanoglu of the Turkish Medical Association during the protest in Istanbul. “We want an income with which we can live humanely. We are saying we can’t make ends meet.”

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Dr. Ali Haydar Temel said: “We are requesting to be able to live above the poverty line.”

Inflation in Turkey surged to a 20 year-high of nearly 49% in January, severely eroding people’s purchasing power and the value of their savings.

The opposition Good Party said last month that around 3,000 physicians have left Turkey in the past two years, warning that the country could be faced with a serious brain drain unless conditions improve.

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