Turkish opposition parties warn new minimum wage to erode by mid-2024

After the Turkish government announced that the minimum wage would be 17,002 liras ($578) for 2024, opposition parties warned that it would be eroded before mid-year and fall below the hunger threshold due to severe inflation.

Duvar English

Following Turkish government's announcement that the minimum wage for whole 2024 was determined as net 17,002 liras with a 49% increase, reactions came one after another from the opposition front.

CHP: ‘Minimum wage dooms millions of workers to hunger and misery’

Gamze Taşçıer, main opposition Republican People’s Party Deputy Chair overseeing the Labour and Social Security Ministry, drew attention to severe inflation in the country and said, "This is the level of wage that will evaporate in a few months and will be below the hunger threshold again."

“Even with the Central Bank's inflation target, which is unlikely to be met, and with the announcement of a single increase (in 2024), this amount will reach 10,882 liras in real terms at the end of 2024, even less than today. In reality, it is obvious that it will be much lower.”

Turkey’s hunger threshold reached 14,025 Turkish lira ($477) in November, $101 less than the new minimum wage, data from the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş) revealed. The poverty threshold reached 45,686 liras ($1,553) and hit three times the new minimum wage.

Turkey's central bank has estimated its year-end inflation projections for 2023 and 2024 to 65% and 36% respectively. The disinflation would start after it peaked at around 70%-75% in May 2024, according to the bank.

Yalçın Karatepe, CHP Deputy Chair overseeing the Treasury and Finance Ministry, stated that 64 percent of employees work with minimum wage or a salary close to it. “The announced minimum wage is at the level of average house rent in metropolitan areas,” he said.

“According to the poverty threshold figures, if there are not three minimum wage earners in a family, a household is considered poor. Considering the current unemployment levels, it is a dream to think that three people work in a household. This decision dooms millions of workers to hunger and misery."

The CHP argues that the government's decision to raise the minimum wage once a year should be abandoned and a new increase should be made in the middle of the year.

DEM Party: ‘Government crushes workers under inflation’

Turkey’s second biggest opposition Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları stated on X, “We advocate that the minimum wage be updated every month and set at least half of the poverty line. We demand a ban on layoffs.”

She underscored that single increase in a year would mean “crushing workers under inflation.” 

İYİ: ‘Citizens to give message on upcoming local elections’

Nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party Spokesperson Kürşad Zorlu reminded that their party’s minimum wage proposals were 17,000 lira for the first half of 2024 and 20,500 lira for the second half. 

“While the minimum wage has become an average wage, the labor of millions of our citizens will erode before the half of the year has come in the face of the cost of living. The local elections on March will be the most effective message that our citizens will give against this course," Zorlu added.

BBP: ‘Second increase needed for second half of year’

Government’s nationalist-Islamist ally Great Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici stated that it would not be enough to give a raise once a year. "In July 2024, the minimum wage determination commission should meet again and the 6-month inflation difference should be added (as an increase) to the minimum wage for the second half of the year," he stated.

Islamist opposition Felicity Party (SP) and Future Party, which formed a parliamentary group, also criticized the government's decision to set the minimum wage "which is possible to fall below hunger threshold."