Turkish gov’t to bosses: Resist opposition’s minimum wage promises
ISTANBULPrime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and several economy ministers of the government have criticized the opposition parties’ economic plans, particularly promises to increase the minimum wage, inviting business and trade groups to reflect on how these promises are “unrealistic.”
“Any opposition party may voice many unrealistic promises … You, as the exporters of our country, have the full right to hear a clear comment about the minimum wages in terms of the rational economic context. The minimum wage is defined and negotiated by employers and employees on an optimum ground. You know how any populist move to determine this wage may affect our country’s exports negatively,” Davutoğlu said at the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM) meeting in Istanbul, quoted by Doğan News Agency.
He said the government would continue to implement “rational economic policies.”
“We have no doubt that confidence and stability will last in Turkey. We have succeeded a lot over the past 12 years and you, exporters, are both architects and witnesses of our achievements,” he said, adding that he believed the country would reach its $500 billion exports target by 2023.
The eye-catching economic promises made by the opposition parties ahead of the June 7 general election have also been criticized by several members of the government.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci also called on businesses, trade unions and bosses to react against pledges to increase the minimum wage, saying increases would result in job losses.
“The addressees of [the opposition parties’ pledges] are labor and employer unions in Turkey as well as industrialist and business associations, exporters and producers. As the government, we prefer to be silent about this issue, but these groups should voice their concerns about the opposition’s promises to increase the minimum wage,” Zeybekci said on May 10, according to Anadolu Agency.
“Companies would need to cut jobs to be able to pay higher wages to their workers. Otherwise, they would go bankrupt,” he added.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has promised to raise the minimum wage to 1,500 Turkish Liras and also lift income tax thresholds. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has pledged to increase the minimum wage to 1,400 liras and to give households whose total income is below minimum wage an additional monthly stipend for public transportation. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), meanwhile, has vowed to raise the minimum wage to 1,800 liras. Turkey’s minimum wage is currently under 1,000 liras.
Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek also described the CHP’s pledge to raise the minimum wage to 1,500 liras as “unrealistic” in April.
He also added that the current wage is higher than that of several countries in Europe.
“Turkey’s production of high-technology, value-added goods is low. It still produces and exports in traditional sectors. In this sense, Turkey’s minimum wage is higher than those of 10 European countries,” Şimşek said.