Thousands of health workers have taken part in a nationwide strike across Turkey in protest over "unacceptable, inhuman" working conditions
Thousands of health workers have taken part in a nationwide strike across Turkey in protest over "unacceptable, inhuman" working conditions.
Friday’s biggest demonstration was in Istanbul. Thousands of doctors, nurses and other health-sector workers gathered in front of Istanbul University’s Faculty of Medicine in Capa and marched to the Local Health Authority in the city's historic Sultanahmet district.
Today's strikers carried banners reading: "Equal and free health service for everyone" and "Ban subcontracting," as well as chanting: "We want secure work and a secure future."
“I do not want my mother to work on weekends; I want her to spend much more time with me," said six-year-old Duru, the daughter of Ozlem Dogan, a nurse at a health center in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district. Duru attended today’s march together with her mother.
"We are against heavy working conditions and working long hours. That’s why I am here," Dogan told The Anadolu Agency.
Another health worker, Sitki Kaya, a nurse at an Istanbul hospital, complained about subcontracting.
"I am getting the minimum wage (around $360 per month), which is not enough to feed my family and working long hours and under heavy conditions," he said, adding: "I want government officials to make our conditions better and to ban subcontracting."
Samet Menguc, secretary general of Istanbul Chamber of Medical Doctors, read out a statement to the media during the march, saying that Davutoglu’s recent statement was not enough.
"Sometimes one doctor is obliged to look after 500 patients in a day," claimed Menguc, adding: "The work environment is unhealthy. Working hours are unhealthy. It is like a slavery system."
He stated that working for 36 hours non-stop and an existing subcontracting system which does not safeguard jobs were not acceptable. In his statement, he demanded the government improve conditions for health workers and patients by asking for a "free and equal" health service for public.
In Ankara, one group held a march carrying coffins to protest about violence against health workers and by chanting slogans like: "No to dying while working" and "Subcontracting means death."
In a speech during the march, Ibrahim Kara, spokesman for the Ankara-based Health and Social Services Workers' Union, complained about the quality of the vocational training: "The quality of medical education is going down every day. This situation threatens the public's health."
From the western city of Izmir to southern cities of Antalya and Adana to eastern Diyarbakir, health workers also downed tools to demand better working conditions.