*Translator’s note: NTV is a mainstream TV channel criticised of not covering the Gezi Park events for days due to media censorship. See: https://translatingtaksim.wordpress.com/category/media/
For Turkish see:
White-collared ‘chappullers’: We have extended the barricade to the Maslak Plazas
Resistance has spread to the Maslak Plazas from Gezi Park. The white- collared people who organised the protests against NTV* at lunchtime break say “The uprising of Buyukdere has begun, and so we are pushing the barricade forward”.
Radikal.com.tr – Eye-catching images from the documentary on penguins: Since the start of this week, thousands of white-collared individuals working in banks, in advertisement or insurance companies run to protest the mainstream media instead of having a lunch break. They shout “White-collared ‘chappullers’ are here”, “How much does live streaming cost?” and they wave banknotes at the bosses of the media… The act is successful – NTV, targeted by the protestors, first has to broadcast the crowd live, and then starts to release the broadcast with sound after the reaction by the protestors.
Members of the Plaza Action Platform (PEP) have also been spending their lunchtime in Maslak for days now. PEP is a platform to battle against common problems of the white-collared workers such as mobbing, competition, stress, performance pressure and uninsured/ flexible work. We met and talked to the action novice ‘white-collared chappullers’ as they call themselves, and we listened to the Buyukdere outbreak. We are not sharing any names, photos or company names to avoid an issue with Human Resources!
– How did the demonstration in front of NTV come about, did you organize it?
– We heard about the demonstration on Monday at around 09:30-10:00 from the ‘nuisance’ Twitter. At the time, I was around Maslak at the bank where I work.
– We did not organize it but gave a hand. We did not announce it as ‘there may be a protest’ but as ‘we shall do it’ and committed to it. Maybe we are used to live with hierarchy but still we said “Write down your complaint on a piece of A4 paper, grab your colleague and come”. This has formed legitimacy of this uprising at workplaces too. As it is true for the demonstrations in general, people who have never been involved in politics are now on the streets.
– I work in a research company. The entire company received an e-mail from our general manager stating, “Colleagues who would like to join the protests can organize their work and join the demonstrations, and the managers can show tolerance to the ones getting tired”. We said to our own manager that we would leave at 2pm to go to the park. He responded, “Of course you can, but please take your laptops with you as the customers may ask for urgent data”. Of course no one took their laptops! This way we are pushing the barricade forward from here.
– I work for the same research company. I have been on the streets for days; I came back home at 4am on Sunday morning, and e-mailed my managers saying I would be absent the next day. I have the self-confidence to express myself and to be part of a struggle on the streets as a white-collared worker… Now we want to develop the ability to show this political stance at workplace.
– What kind of an experience was the demonstration?
– It was uneasy at first. The lives of the white-collared workers are much more hygienic and sterile – they do not want it to be harmed. As they have unguaranteed jobs and as there is no unionism, they have fears of being made redundant. Still when we went to the NTV building, we saw this fantastic crowd. I shouted slogans like “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism” with the people with whom I go to business meetings and speak in the ‘plaza’ language! We waved banknotes in the air saying, “How much does live streaming cost”, we grabbed a live broadcast from NTV.
– There has been an accumulation of some serious rage against the media. The contact we had with Reyhanli been cut down, we could not receive any news from there, we could not mourn. Then happened May 1st. For one week the police exercised an unbelievable level of violence in Gezi Park, but the media kept silent. We are the target audiences of these media companies; it is us who are being censored… We have therefore accumulating anger, and the atmosphere has become politicised. We ended up dragging our colleagues to protests; we left the plazas like ants to face NTV. We are one collective body! ‘We shop from the AVMs, we buy your newspapers, do not take us as fools!’ we said. I believe we have created an important front for the struggle.
– So who was there?
– People working in Maslak were there, not provokers or foreign forces. Everyone was ‘marginal’; everyone was a ‘chappuller’ (laughs). Our managers also came, we kept shouting and slogans like ‘Media for Sale’, ‘Everywhere is Taksim Everywhere is Resistance’. We invited the workers of NTV, and they joined us. We are aware of the fact that the reason for the media’s stance is due to its bosses, not due to its labourers.
– Although our problems concern everyone, we experience these as if there are down to individuals at workplace… We have been already craving for this kind of collective solidarity. This situation has provided the evidence that the ‘internal’ explosion we experience at workplace can also be ‘external’.
– Will the protests continue?
– It was initially decided to keep them going until Friday but today we are less in numbers than yesterday. The first day everyone was standing separately which made us worried about the attendance. The NTV building is also an AVM – there are also restaurants inside. Around 1,000 got together however when people asked each other “Are you here for the protest?” – we are novice protestors!
– The situation that started with May 1st and made its climax with Gezi Resistance is this: White-collared workers have also seen the concrete evidence that the pressure from the superiors/ authority can be ended.
– What will come out of this? What are your dreams?
– We are in this struggle actually for the last four years. We want the Gezi Park resistance to help the cause of the white-collared workers to get even stronger, organised and unified. We have always dreamt of a movement ‘from Plazas to Squares, from aquariums to oceans’… Now we call it the ‘Buyukdere Uprising’. I also hope that we march to Taksim from Buyukdere, that we organize the resistance on an even larger scale…
– Maybe we could extend the public spaces in Maslak, maybe open a canteen and gather together. We could set up tents at the Umraniye and Maslak Plaza regions… In the mornings we hand out leaflets in Maslak already, but we could do something else in long-term. This civilian movement probably has taught us this: Go somewhere and get settled – like a tree. We can do that in Maslak – we can continue the resistance.
– We work in Maslak – a region of million-dollar plazas, but we do not have a street to walk, a space to eat. We have food tickets worth 10 liras, but you cannot actually eat for less than 15 liras… We have the Maslak Forest behind, but they have set their eyes on it too. The legislative mechanisms are not working, we couldn’t even resist on this issue, and we could not even raise our voices as the white-collared. Maybe Gezi Park can also save the Maslak Forest!
– There is also the bank boycott… Have any of you closed their accounts?
– I went to Garanti Ihlamurdere branch on Monday to close my account. The guy before me in the queue left the bank with a bunch of money in his hands. When I said I wanted to close the account to the teller, he looked at me as if saying ”You are right” – he did not even ask a question. Many friends from work have done exactly the same as I did.
– Our wages get transferred to that bank too. We e-mailed the management and demanded them to change to another bank. Some even broke their bankcards.
– Our company ended their agreement with the bank on Monday. From now on we shall withdraw our wages from the accounts of another bank.
The seeds of the PEP were planted in 2008 as a result of the redundancies and the unionisation problems in IBM. The majority of the platform consists of insurers, advertisers, bankers and employees of investigation companies. They appear at May 1st demonstrations for the last three years. Next to handing out leaflets in Maslak, they set up workshops and seminars on labour law.