Turkish education union demands better wages for teachers amid soaring inflation

The Turkish union Eğitim-Sen has demanded better wages for teachers as they are approaching the hunger threshold amid soaring inflation and are insufficient to uphold humane living conditions.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Eğitim-Sen (Education and Science Workers’ Union) on Oct. 17 published a memorandum entitled “We cannot get by,” about the impoverishment of teachers and education personnel.

The report stated that hundreds of thousands education workers were living closer to the hunger threshold, well beneath the poverty line. 

According to the report, the standard teacher’s salary has lost almost half its buying power since 2014, and that teachers’ salaries were not enough to rent in big cities, or to maintain a healthy diet in the face of rising prices.

The report also mentioned the personnel in education institutions, and said that the current salaries of education workers were not enough to sustain humane living conditions. 

Turkey’s hunger threshold reached 13,334 Turkish liras ($486) in September, surpassing the minimum wage (11,402 liras, $408) three months in a row, data from the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş) revealed.

Some of the demands outlined by the union are as follows:

  • The budget share for the Education Ministry and Council of Higher Education should be doubled and raised to the OECD average.
  • Schools should be funded in line with their needs
  • Education’s share in the national budget should be increased
  • All education and science workers’ salaries should be taken above the poverty line. 

Turkey is facing a cost-of-life crisis due to sustained high inflation. Turkey's official statistical authority, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), reported an annual inflation rate of 61.53 percent in September, whereas independent research group ENAG reported it as 130.13 percent.

Housing prices on the other hand increased by 132.8 percent in the first quarter of 2023 according to the Global Housing Price Index, especially in the biggest provinces Ankara, İzmir and İstanbul. 

However, minimum wage increased by 34 percent in July 2023. 

Experts have warned the country's middle class is being crushed and destroyed due to soaring inflation as the average wage creeps closer to the minimum wage.