HDP demands gov't to raise minimum wage to 5,000 liras amid mass poverty

The HDP has demanded that the net minimum wage be raised to 5,000 liras amid soaring living costs and depreciation of the lira. During budget discussions of the Labor and Social Security Ministry, HDP MPs held placards reading 'Let the minimum wage be a net 5,000 liras and exempt from taxation.”

Duvar English

The Turkish Parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission on Nov. 5 started to discuss the budget to be allocated to the Labor and Social Security Ministry for 2022.

The budget talks were marked by how much the government would raise the minimum wage, which currently stands at a net of 2,825 Turkish Liras a month.

Minister Vedat Bilgin said that they were “making calculations” and aiming to “determine a minimum wage that protects the labor in the face of inflation.”

Bilgin's comments came as the Labor and Social Security Ministry will hold talks with unions representing employers and employees to determine the new minimum wage for 2022, amid soaring living costs and depreciation of the lira.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) announced earlier this week that the country's annual inflation rate rose to 19.89 percent in October, its highest in more than two and half years, although experts note that the real inflation rate is higher than 40 percent.

During the budget discussions in the commission, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers held placards reading "Let the minimum wage be a net 5,000 liras and exempt from taxation.”

Garo Paylan, the HDP deputy co-chair for Economy, said during their protest it was the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government's policies that put citizens in such difficult economic conditions.

“We want the minimum wage to be a net 5,000 liras and to be exempt from taxation. But these conscienceless people are dooming people to a wage which is even below the hunger threshold,” he said.

AKP lawmakers on the other hand accused HDP lawmakers of “making a show.” After a brief argument, Minister Vedat Bilgin presented his ministry's budget proposal.

The minimum wage is determined at the end of every year by Turkey's Minimum Wage Commission, which consists of 15 people, five from the government, five from unions representing employees, and five from unions representing employers.

The Commission gathers together four times, and at the of these meetings, a decision is announced by the votes of a large majority. If the votes are split half by half, the decision of the commission president prevails.

According to Turkey’s largest trade union, more than 7 million minimum wage earners in the country earn less than the hunger threshold. Polls show that almost two-thirds of the Turkish public is struggling to make ends meet.

Amid economic hardships, coupled with deteriorating human rights, Turkey's young people are looking to go abroad. Minister Bilgin however thinks that the youth have not been “fleeing” Turkey, but rather “leaving the country to get to know the world.”