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Minimum wage hike fails to satisfy workers

The minimum wage hike for 2012, announced yesterday, has failed to fullfil the expectations of trade UNIONs. The 12.4 percent hike is above the inflation rate, the government discusses. However UNIONs, which had wanted the wage to be increased to 1,000 liras.

Workers member to DİSK, the trade UNIONs’ confederation, stage a protest in Istanbul yesterday as an official commission was to announce the minimum wage hike in Ankara.
A recent hike in minimum wage has failed to satisfy representatives of Turkey’s leading trade UNIONs, who called the rise far from putting an end to poor living conditions for minimum wage earners.
The UNIONs were demanding the wage to be increased to 1,000 Turkish Liras from 658 liras last year as the government discussed this would result in bankruptcies for many companies.

“The rise in minimum wage was only 42 liras monthly. How could a worker live with this money?” said Serkan Öngel, director of research at the Confederation of Progressive Trade UNIONs (DİSK).
“If Turkey’s gross domestic growth is around 8.2 percent, why does a worker have to look after his family with 701 liras?” he told the Daily News yesterday. “The unfair distribution of the country’s wealth continues.”

The Turkish government increased the net minimum wage 5.91 percent from 659 liras to 701 for the first half of next year and by 6.09 percent to 739 liras in the second half, Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik announced yesterday.

Öngel said the increase represents nearly a hike of only 1.4 liras on the daily income of a laborer, which is less than $1. A minimum wage earner can only purchase either 10 grams of white cheese or 57.5 grams of red meat with this amount, he said. “Expecting laborers to be pleased with this hike is ridiculous.”

Lami Özgen, president of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade UNIONs (KESK), said minimum wage earners are left without a share in the country’s rapid economic growth once again.

The monthly pensions of parliamentarians increased by 60 percent last week from 4,980 liras to 8,040 liras, he said. “Earners of the minimum wage hardly survive.”

Police response to protests

Meanwhile, police responded to nearly 1,000 UNION members and workers who protested the government’s wage hike offer in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security building in Ankara. Police used tear gas against the protestors and 30 were detained before the announcement of the wage hike rate, Doğan News Agency (DHA) reported.

“The government enjoys pressuring the workers whose voices are louder on the issue,” said Öngel.
The government neglects millions of workers operating in poor conditions for the sake of the large companies annually making considerable profit.

Previously, Turkey’s labor UNIONs demanded from the Turkish government to raise minimum wage to 1,000 liras. In response to the demand, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Şimsek said, “It would not harm the government, but the private firms would go bankrupt in such a case,” on Dec. 19.