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Minimum Wage Debate: Parliament Calls for Contribution, Police Use Tear Gas

Members of the Dev Sağlık-İş socialist trade UNION were taken into custody and released later on when they tried to forward their request for a raise of the minimum wage. UNION President Çerkezoğlu criticized, “On one hand they ask for the UNIONs’ contributions and on the other hand they attack the workers with tear gas”.

A group of members of the Revolutionary Health Workers’ Trade UNION (Dev Sağlık-İş) was taken into police custody on 29 December in Ankara and released later on. They were apprehended in front of the Ministry of Labour when they tried to forward their demands to the Commission for the Determination of the Minimum Wage at the last day of the commission’s meeting in Ankara.

The Dev Sağlık-İş trade UNION is an affiliate of the socialist trade UNION Confederation of Progressive Trade UNIONs (DİSK). Dev Sağlık-İş President Arzu Çerkezoğlu was among the 38 people temporarily taken into custody.
Çerkezoğlu said in an interview with bianet that workers all over Turkey have organized activities throughout the past 1.5 months in order to raise the present minimum wage as the most fundamental right to a level where it is possible to live in a humane way. Also a signature campaign was launched for this purpose.

The Dev Sağlık-İş President explained, “After the press release in front of the Ministry of Labour, we wanted to forward the signatures we collected and our demands to the commission that handles the issue of minimum wage. These requests were rejected. We decided to wait right there for a member of the commission to come out and talk to us to announce the minimum wage to us directly face to face”.

“However, the police attacked us with tear gas and truncheons. They sprayed gas into our eyes from a very short distance. Four people were taken to hospital. Two of them received a sick report for three days”, she continued.
President of the Parliament talked to DİSK at the same time”

Çerkezoğlu reminded that Cemil Çiçek, President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM), had a meeting with the DİSK Steering Board on the new constitution at the very same time. She criticized, “On one hand they want to see the UNIONs’ contributions to a new constitution and on the other hand they attack the workers with tear gas. This demonstrates a two-faced attitude”.

According to Çerkezoğlu, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) got their share of the trade UNIONs after the 12 September referendum due to the pressure applied to all opposition groups.
“We expect everybody to contribute”

TBMM President Çiçek announced after the meeting with DİSK on 29 December:
“The people should definitely be included in this constitution. Their requests should be taken into account. The old constitution was made differently and became the subject of complaints. This time, we knock on everybody’s door to make a correct constitution that meets the expectations of the people. We expect everybody to contribute”.
TL 701 minimum wage

The Commission for the Determination of the Minimum Wage defined the minimum wage, previously amounting to TL 658 (€325), at TL 701.14 (€350) net for workers older than 16 years of age for the first six months and TL 739,80 (€370) for the second six months.
Workers younger than 16 years old will be paid a minimum wage of TL 610.94 net (€ 300) during the first six months and TL 643.15 (€320) net during the second six months.

In a study carried out in November 2011 by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the minimum wage was recommended to amount to TL 971 net (€485). During the strike of the public workers on 21 December 2011, the workers demanded a minimum wage of TL 1000 (€500) at least.