'We are not slaves, but healthcare workers'
NEWS DESK (DİHA) - This Nursing Week, May 12-18, healthcare workers have been holding press conferences and marches across Turkey to call attention to the heavy workloads and sexist exploitation directed at nurses.
Healthcare workers from the union of Healthcare and Social Services Laborers Union (SES) have been protesting the privatization of healthcare that has intensified nurses' exploitation in Turkey. Since Turkey implemented the World Bank-inspired "Transformation in Healthcare Program" in 2003, nurses have found themselves facing increasingly insecure employment conditions.
Ankara workers gathered at the Ministry of Health with signs reading "we're not sexual objects, we're nurses" and decrying the heavy working conditions and performance reviews that make their profession increasingly insecure. SES organized the rally. SES Organizing Secretary Mehtap Karaoğlan noted that nurses, despite being the foundation of hospitals' operation, were relegated to a secondary position in decision-making processes and in terms of their economic rights.
In Diyarbakır, SES members marched across the campus of the Gazi Yaşargil Teaching and Research Hospital. Physicians, pharmacists and general practice workers joined the march. Istanbul healthcare workers also gathered at the Istanbul University Medical Faculty's Cerrahpaşa Hospital for a rally. Nurses called attention to the danger posed by the privatization of hospitals.
"The places where we serve are far from being able to meet basic physical needs and seriously threaten health," said Eylem Yiğitoğlu, director of SES' Aksaray, Istanbul branch, "and the wages being given in exchange for our service are quite inadequate."
Nurses are calling for the reversal of the transformation program and a law that recognizes and regulates their profession.