Minimum wage of $14 a day highly inadequate, outdated for workers

Minimum wage of $14 a day highly inadequate, outdated for workers

Mustafa Sönmez -
Minimum wage of $14 a day highly inadequate, outdated for workers

Lack of investments, intense unemployment and the lack of a welfare state are all factors that pull down the minimum wage level. In the first half of 2014, the minimum wage was a net 846 Turkish Liras but is set to rise to 891 next week.

On July 1, Turkey’s minimum wage will be “updated.” For a single worker without any children, it will be net 891 Turkish Liras monthly, which is approximately 306 euros or $414. In Turkey, the minimum wage is updated twice annually. In the first half of 2014, it was net 846 liras. As a matter of fact, the minimum wage has been raised by 5.3 percent.

Whenever the minimum wage is debated, those millions that have no income, who do not even earn a minimum wage should be remembered. “Access” to minimum wage is also an enormous problem in Turkey… Millions are deprived of even 891 liras monthly because they do not have jobs… The population
over 15 is roughly 57 million but only 25.5 million of them have a job that brings income.

The official number of the unemployed is 2.7 million, however; we can talk about at least another 2 million who are not included in this figure. In other words, a population of 4.5 to 5 million needs a job even if it pays the minimum wage. They lack a job, hence even this income…

Two million unregistered workers

Besides this mass of millions, not every wage earner benefits from the advantages of the minimum wage. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) there are more than 2 million unregistered, in other words, illegal workers who may even be paid under the minimum wage.

So, before mentioning the slimness or vastness of the minimum wage, millions and the circumstances these millions are living under should first be mentioned; those who are willing to work for minimum wage but do not have a job and those who while they work are deprived of these minimum rights… The minimum wage is defined like this in its law: The lowest wage that is compulsory to be paid by the employer that will enable a working person to at least meet his/her fundamental needs for a humane life… A commission made up of state, employer and employee determine the minimum wage. Employees are represented by the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş), which has the highest number of members. Since the state and the employer have economic stances that are close to each other, generally this segment’s decisions apply and Türk-İş always writes a dissenting note at the end of the report.

This commission, which meets toward the end of every year, fixes the minimum wage for the first half of the year as well as declaring the minimum wage for the second half of the year based on inflation estimates. It is an offense to pay workers below the minimum wage and every workplace should, by law, hang a sign declaring that minimum wage is applied there. However, this does not mean there are no workers who are paid under the minimum wage.

Minimum wage of $14 a day highly inadequate, outdated for workersHow is the minimum wage determined? Should it be determined by taking into consideration the needs of only the worker? Shouldn’t this wage be enough for the worker and his/her family to conduct their lives, enough for their necessary goods and services? Even though they do similar jobs, minimum wage today is different in several countries. According to the EU’s statistical office Eurostat, the minimum wage that corresponds to 426 euros in Turkey exceeds 1,500 euros in Belgium; which is more than one to three. In Spain, it is 789 euros, in Greece 684 euros. On the other hand, there are EU countries that have lower minimum wages than Turkey… They are mostly Baltic and Balkan countries… Minimum wage in Estonia is 355 euros, in Romania and Bulgaria it is lower than 200 euros; less than half of Turkey’s…

This difference in levels stems from the value attributed to base pay in these countries in question. This value has not surfaced overnight. It is the product of more than a century old struggle of the working class. Such an ethic wage is actually the consequence of the development level of each country, typically the result of class struggle. If there is no organized struggle then unfortunately there is no fair wage… Lack of investments, intense unemployment and the lack of a social state are all factors that pull down the minimum wage level…

Minimum wage of $14 a day highly inadequate, outdated for workersDeduction

For the second half of 2014, a single worker in Turkey with no children will earn a monthly minimum wage of 891 liras. In Turkey where the average monthly working hours are 225 hours, this means 1.35 euros or 1.86 dollars per hour. Let’s round it off, the daily wage is $14… As of July 1, a salary of 891 liras monthly will be the net minimum wage, the actual amount of money that will be in the pocket. However, the employer has to pay the social security premiums of both his and the worker’s shares and the income tax each month to the state. How much?

The employer has to pay, as of July, 241 liras for the workers tax and social security premium and 200 liras premium as the employer’s share, a total of 441 liras to the state as tax and premium… This means 53 percent of the net minimum wage. The minimum wage level is important because it is the basis for determining the incomes of all wage earners. It is some kind of a meter.

While the wages and fees of workers registered in the private sector, reaching 12 million and public sector employees about 3 million are determined, the minimum wage is regarded as an indicator. In several other decisions, the minimum wage is also an indicator; it is also important in this aspect.
However, a level of $14 daily, especially if the other family members of the workers do not have any other income, is highly inadequate and outdated for them to maintain their physical being…