Turkey fires at least 150 people from state theatres with no official explanation

At least 150 contract employees of Turkish state theatres, operas and ballets have lost their jobs since the beginning of the year without any justification, Deutsche Welle reported on Wednesday.

The lay-offs started after the Turkish government changed guidelines for staff of Turkey’s state theatres in a new regulation published on Dec. 26, promising to improve working conditions.

The new regulation allowed staff working on a contractual basis to apply for permanent positions, but among the many who submitted their applications, at least 150 were fired without notice, DW said. 

"The employment of the contract staff was not approved by the director under the terms of employment,” was the only explanation staff received in a yellow letter handed to them. 

Artists have speculated on the reasons for the lay-offs, DW said, with some assuming that it might be their participation to 2013 Gezi protests, the biggest anti-government demonstrations since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

"Those whose contracts have been terminated do not have a uniform profile,” said Sercan Gidişoğlu of one of the actors' unions. “Because it can affect everyone, there are enormous fears for the future.”

"There used to be an aptitude test for staff. Today, new employees are selected from above, regardless of whether they have a conservatory degree or not,” Gidişoğlu said, adding that the goal behind the lay-offs might be to replace staff with government supporters.