Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Working in Turkey

I've been out of my Monday-Friday (+Sunday!) job for almost two months now, but it's probably never a good time to blog about your workplace, past or present. So I'll just say this for specifics: I worked as a copy editor for about six months at the English-language version of a conservative, pro-government Turkish newspaper. If you're here in Istanbul, you probably know which paper I mean.

When I first got the job, I found the workplace to be like Mars -- that is to say, an alien world. First off, Turkey has a six-day work week (45 hours), which is unfortunate since studies have shown that an employee's productivity peaks at 40 hours and minimum wage here is a mere TL 700 (which I've also heard cited as the average wage). For most Turks, that sixth day would be Saturday (at the paper, however, we had Saturday off and worked most Sundays). And so, funny enough, when Turks want to take time off, they have to count the Saturday -- Cagatay, for example, doesn't actually work on Saturdays, but he still has to count it in vacation time.

One of the other things that shocked me was that employers pick your bank. The company is affliated with a bank, through whom you'll get your paycheck; if your previous employer used a different bank, when you get a new job you'll have to switch. The company also provides lunch -- at smaller companies, you get a lunch card that you can then go out and use at restaurants, fast-food joints and even the grocery store. Our company was quite large, so we ate downstairs in a cafeteria -- though I heard the cafeteria shuts down during Ramadan, and during that month (July-August this year), the foreigners eat out.

I can't say though that every workplace shuts down its cafeteria -- as I said above, our company was very conservative, which in this context means religious. I worked with expats and Turks on the English-language newspaper, and we were all in the same area, and things always seemed quite normal and relaxed. I never noticed a division in the sexes, but then at lunch, all of the men would sit together on one side of the room while all the women sat together on the other. EVERY SINGLE DAY. (Fittingly, the expats usually sat together in the middle.) The gyms were also segregated. The building had two gyms, which three groups shared -- the executives, the men and the ladies. And the women had their own workout time, a very limited time (eight hours over the week, as I recall). Apparently the regular guys and the executives couldn't work out together in the same space -- but of course, I wouldn't know, SINCE I WASN'T ALLOWED IN.

It all just seemed so, so strange at first. There were other workplace issues, too (ahem, plagiarism), but after awhile, I got completely used to it and couldn't remember what initially seemed so strange. Which seemed even stranger. :) Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. Domestically Yours reserves the right to remove comments deemed to be offensive or unsuited to the subject matter of this site. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and will not be approved by the moderator.