The academics working at Istanbul's Okan University, one of the private universities of Turkey, contacted the ‘We will breathe down bosses’ neck’ solidarity platform because of their unjust working conditions.
The academics were interviewed by the Communist Party of Turkey's (TKP) Weekly, Boyun Eğme, and told about violations of rights and exploitation in the well-known private university in Istanbul.
Let’s start with the process of employment. How did you get the job?
We were employed after having taken two exams; one written and one oral interview. When we started at the private university, the public universities were not really employing people. Thus, we applied to private universities, and Okan University was one of the opportunities.
What happened next? What were the problems you suffered?
Our biggest problem is wages. We are underpaid in comparison to public universities. Some of us work for almost minimum wage. We received education and worked hard for many years. Graduate, postgraduate studies. These are very difficult processes. When we compare our wages with the prices of books we need to buy for our work, the result is horrifying. What we are paid is not enough for daily life in Istanbul. What kind of a future can an educator offers to their students if one still receives money from one’s parents? This is really degrading.
How are other academics doing?
The issue of low wages is not only our problem, we know that. The policy of the university is to charge students high fees but pay the academics low wages. There have been academics who quitted or did not attend the classes because of low wages. However, we do not really hear about each other at the campus, so we learn what happened very late. We are working full-time, but part-time academics who work on the hourly-basis have other problems. Even if they actively attend to the classes, they do not get paid.
Do the students know about this situation?
The majority of them actually know. These problems are voiced at the university events. However, all these problems are covered up with absurd excuses. There is a continuous circulation of academics because of the violations of rights. The students cannot get fruitful education because of this. The waste of time, adaptation problems. The money received through the fees is neither reflected with our wages nor the education possibilities.
A few days ago, an academic at Ankara's Başkent University told the violations of rights s/he suffered to the solidarity platform. What do you think about this situation of universities?
We know that the problem is not limited to only our university. The problem is the commodification of education. We will clearly suffer from similar problems in any private university. No university management would propose a solution to these problems because the problem is themselves. We have only one plan, to engage in organized resistance. For this reason, we are calling for every academic to raise their voice and get together to find a solution.