As the crash of the local currency has drastically reduced the value of workers’ wages in Turkey and high inflation rates have added to the suffering of all low-income groups, trade unions have reacted and appealed to the Ankara administration to significantly increase all wages.
The minimum wage which was worth 331 euros 10 months ago on 7 February is now worth 183 euros as of 7 December. The annual inflation rate, according to the highly unreliable official figures, is 21.3%, while it actually is slightly over 58% according to ENAGrup, a group of experts including the former Undersecretary of Treasury and Foreign Trade, Tevfik Altınok.
Since currently 42% of the paid labour registered in the system is working on a minimum wage and the actual rate is much higher, considering those who are working off the system, the minimum wage is in fact very close to the median wage in Turkey.
As there are reports in the media that the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning to raise the minimum wage to 4,000 Turkish liras with a 41% increase, it will still be worth 260 euros in today’s currency – i.e., a figure that is still lower than the lowest European minimum wage (286 euros in Bulgaria, a country which has neither a currency crisis nor a problem of high inflation, where the inflation rate has been 2.1% in 2021). It must be noted that the country following Bulgaria is Hungary, with a minimum wage of 424 euros.
The Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Workers (DİSK) has recently demanded that the minimum wage must be increased to at least 5,200 TL and a corresponding portion of all wages needs to be exempt from tax.
Arzu Çerkezoğlu, the chair of DİSK, also announced on Monday that a rally will be staged in Istanbul on 12 December.
“The growth in the Turkish economy is not reflected in the wages. So we say it is obligatory that all wages, foremost the minimum wage, are raised to a level befitting humane living conditions,” she said.
“We say that the minimum wage must enable a worker to cope with the living costs of the whole family, in accordance with international standards. Its losses against inflation, against the foreign currencies or gold must be compensated. When two individuals in a household are on waged income, they must at least earn enough to live on the poverty threshold, not below it. It is also required that a portion of all wages corresponding to the minimum wage must be exempt from tax and the state treasury ought to compensate for these tax revenues.”