Over 10 million working in informal employment, says opposition MP

More than 10 million people are working in informal employment in Turkey and the solution to tackle this issue is unionization as only 11 percent of all employees in the county are unionized, said main opposition CHP MP Veli Ağbaba.  

Duvar English

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Veli Ağbaba has said that more than 10 million people are employed in unregistered work, and that the solution to this informal employment is unionization.

Ağbaba said that the data of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) and Social Security Institution (SGK) show the number of unregistered workers as 6.7 million but this figure reaches 10 million when migrants are included, according to reporting by ANKA news agency.

Ağbaba said that the number of unregistered workers has increased by 1.5 million in only the first five months of 2023.

“According to May 2023 data released by TÜİK, there are 31 million 716 thousand wage-earners but SGK May data show 24 million 970 thousand wage-earners. The difference is 6 million 745 thousand. In other words, there are millions of people for whom no premium is being paid to the Social Security Institution, who are working in an unsecured way and are vulnerable to work accidents. Unfortunately, they have no insurance, are unable to go to the hospital. When there is a work accident, they can’t benefit from any rights,” he said.

“The only solution of unregistered employment is unionization. Unfortunately, the rate of unionization in Turkey continues to gradually decrease every day. Approximately 11 percent of all employees are unionized. If the state wants to put these people under a legal framework, it has to pave the way for everyone to be unionized.”

He said that unregistered unemployment is also against the interest of the state since businesses are not paying wage premiums.

“Millions of people are continuing to work in an unregistered way in the agricultural sector. Our people are working from age 10 to 80 on the field…One of Turkey’s biggest problems is seasonal agricultural workers. The state must absolutely provide insurance for seasonal agricultural workers and should itself pay for their insurance premiums.”