Turkish doctors launch strike over poor salaries, violence at work

Turkish doctors launch strike over poor salaries, violence at work
2 min read
14 March, 2022
The strike coincides with Turkey’s national commemoration of Medicine Day on March 14.
Turkish doctors are demanding pay changes and protections at work [Getty]

Turkish doctors launched a two-day strike on Monday, citing low wages and threats of violence from patients at work.

The striking doctors are demanding better pay, pensions and the implementation of a law protecting health workers from violence. They are also calling for Covid-19 to be classified as an occupational disease, regardless of whether workers had been assigned to a Covid-19 ward.

"Everyone can see that the health system is now stuck at an impasse," a Turkish Medical Association (TBB) statement was quoted by Turkish daily Soczu as saying.

"The health of society is getting worse day by day, and access to health is getting harder," the statement said.

"When the health system is unsustainable; we have to work with low wages and heavy workload under the threat of violence. We are in a period where our professional honour and labour are rendered worthless."

The strike action coincides with Turkey’s national Medicine Day on March 14.

TBB members and other affiliated physicians marched down to Istanbul’s Taksim Square to mark the occasion, however were stopped by police, according to local media reports.

Police told the physicians that while wreath laying would be allowed, speeches and talks would be barred, prompting the doctors to lay wreaths in front of a police barricade, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Doctors are also railing against recent remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who slammed medical professionals who have migrated away from Turkey.

"They are off to work in the private sector because they are paid larger amounts of money there. Look, I am speaking frankly: So be it, let them go,"  Erdogan said in a recent statement.

Reports suggest a sharp rise in the number of Turkish doctors seeking employment abroad in recent years.

According to the TBB, 1,405 doctors applied for permission to be able to work abroad in 2021, compared to just 59 in 2012.