In the latest financial update, Turkey’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) saw a staggering annual increase of 65%, with the month of December alone experiencing a three percent rise. Contrasting sharply with this official figure, the Inflation Research Group (ENAGrup), an assembly of academicians and economists, reported a more alarming annual inflation rate of 127% for 2023.
Economist Ahmet Şahinöz expressed concerns over the eroding purchasing power of the newly set minimum wage. “Within 4 to 5 months, the recent increase will be nullified due to inflation,” he stated, highlighting the plight of workers. As per Şahinöz, workers will find themselves earning below the poverty line for at least six months of 2024.
Minimum wage was announced as 17,002 Turkish Lira per month for 2024, a figure that stands in stark contrast to the poverty line set at 47,000 Lira by the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş).
In response to the December inflation figures, public sector workers and retirees will see a 49% wage increase, while Social Security Institution (SGK) and Social Security Organisation for Artisans and the Self-Employed (Bağkur) retirees receive a 38% hike. This disparity has intensified debates on the sufficiency of wage adjustments in the face of rampant inflation.
The Public Employees Unions Confederation (KESK) reacted sharply to the inflation data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK). They accused the government of downplaying real inflation figures by at least 25%, asserting that the current wage increases barely compensate for the eroded salaries. KESK’s statement highlighted the manipulation in the inflation basket and called for a change in government policies that are detrimental to workers and the poor. “We are being forced to live in destitution,” KESK stated, emphasising the growing gap between official figures and the reality of living costs.