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Turkey’s publication sector has been growing by leaps and bounds with every passing year, according to figures provided by the Culture Ministry and employers’ organizations. 

Turkey’s publication sector has been growing by leaps and bounds with every passing year, according to figures provided by the Culture Ministry and employers’ organizations. 

Turkey’s publishing sector grew by 12% in 2015 with the production of more than 384 million licensed products, some 118 million of which were books that were not either reprints of religious works or materials directed at elementary and middle-school students, according to the Federation of Publishing Professional Unions (YAYFED). According to ISBN sales, around 50,000 new books are printed every year on average.


For workers in publishing houses, however, the situation is not as bright. According to figures from the Labor Ministry, around 3,300 workers are employed in this sector, which includes everyone from those involved in pre-printing preparations to accountants and cooks. The wide disparity between employment figures and the number of new books points to a preponderance of freelancers working without any social security. The work relationship between freelance workers and publishing houses is shaped by the habits and customs of publishers. What certainly does not change is that freelance workers are devoid of social security and the power to negotiate over the terms of the work and pay. Likewise, the conditions of salaried publishing workers, who are under eternal pressure from the army of freelance workers eager for a more stable job, are little brighter, as they face long working hours, unpaid overtime, mobbing, tasks that fall outside their job description, work at home and a distinct lack of even the hint of an annual raise.


Vague job descriptions in book production benefit the employer, impacting all workers in the sector. Fixing the length of work and the job’s accompanying tasks in the form of a contract would be instrumental in ensuring that workers are not forced to conduct a great deal of work for a single payment or, if they are requested to accomplish different tasks, would provide them with recourse to obtain supplemental pay.


Accordingly, the Publishing Workers’ Collective (YEK) has prepared 12 contracts based on various job descriptions. Without ignoring the principle of reciprocity, YEK has prepared contracts that include articles addressing payments, length of work, terms of work, additional demands, methods for solving disputes and the like. Taking the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions’ Research Institute’s (DİSK-AR) figures for a human standard of living as their base, the contracts are also important for recommending a unit price based on an eight-hour work day.


DİSK Basın-İş espouses these contracts, considering them to be a step toward ensuring job security in the publishing sector and a platform for facilitating stronger negotiations in a sector that is not subject to collective bargaining.


We invite all publishing workers to make use of these contracts in their negotiations with employers and to organize under the auspices of DİSK Basın-İş.
*Copies of various Turkish-language contracts can be downloaded at http://diskbasinis.org/index.php/haber/yayin-dunyasi/299-freelance-calisanlar-icin-sozlseme-ornekleri.