, ANKARA, May 23 – Tens of thousands of state employees including doctors, nurses and teachers on went on strike Wednesday in several cities across Turkey demanding better pay and employment rights.
Media reports said almost all schools in the capital Ankara were closed and that many doctors and nurses had heeded the strike call with hospitals admitting emergency cases only.
Wednesday’s walkout came after unions rejected on Tuesday the government’s proposal of a 3.5 percent pay rise for the first half of 2012 and 4.0 percent for the second half of the year.
In Istanbul, several thousand civil servants gathered to stage a rally condemning the government proposals, set against yearly inflation which reached nearly 10.5 percent in 2011.
Police used tear gas to disperse protesters blocking traffic during a demonstration in Ankara.
Under Turkish law, public sector workers do not have the right to strike and unions went ahead with the walkout despite warnings from the authorities.