Minimum wage earner tells Turkey's minimum wage commission how to make ends meet
A commission that is tasked with setting up the minimum wage for some 7 million employees for 2019 launched negotiations on Dec. 6 with the participation of employer unions, worker unions and the government.
The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş) has demanded that the minimum wage should be increased from the current 1,603 Turkish Liras ($298) to at least 2,000 liras ($372), a 24.8 percent rise.
For the first time, this year a worker receiving minimum wage joined the commission as a member. Gülden Kormaz, who is employed as a private security guard, will explain to commission members how difficult it is to make ends meet with the current minimum wage.
The Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations (TİSK) represents the employers’ side during the negotiations.
“We will not accept, we will not even discuss a wage increase that is less than the annual inflation,” said Ergün Atalay, the head of Türk-İş, said on the first day of discussions in the capital Ankara.
We are talking about an inflation rate, which hovered around 24-25 percent in the past three to four months. We demand a compensation to cover this inflation rate. We also demand an additional improvement in the wage on top of the increase in line with the inflation,” Atalay explained.
Turkey’s annual consumer price inflation came in at 21.62 percent in November, falling by 3.62 percentage points from 25.24 percent in October.
A new economic program, announced by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak on Sept. 20, forecasts that inflation would rise to 20.8 percent this year before dropping to 15.9 percent in 2019 and 9.8 percent in 2020.
Last year, the increase was 14 percent for a monthly minimum wage of which remained below what was demanded by labor unions.
amily, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, who represents the government in the commission, said one of the priorities of the government in 2019 would be creating more jobs.
She suggested that the new wage should satisfy both workers and employers.
“Thus, the minimum wage should be set at a level that contributes to productively but also be compatible with the economic conjuncture,” Selçuk said.
The next meeting of the commission is scheduled for Dec. 13. The commission, which will conclude its work by the end of December, is expected to hold a total of four meetings.