Turkish public employees burn payrolls in protest of soaring inflation: 'Poverty cannot be disguised'
Turkish public employees affiliated with the union KESK have burned their payrolls in the face of insufficiency of wages, questioning the credibility of the official inflation data released by the government-run TÜİK. “The real inflation experienced by people in the bazaar, market and kitchen is much higher than the TÜİK figures. The poverty that laborers, workers, retired and people are going through has come to a point where it can no longer be disguised,” they said.
Nur Kaplan / DUVAR
Members of the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK) on July 18 burned their payrolls to protest their financial difficulties in the face of soaring inflation and melting wages.
The demonstration took place in front of Branch No. 5 of the teachers' union Eğitim-Sen in the capital Ankara. The demonstrators held a huge banner reading "Enough now! We want a pay that is enough to live in a humane way."
The public employees decried that the 41.7 percent salary raise announced for civil servants and public sector retirees earlier this month was not sufficient as the real inflation rate is much more than that.
“The real inflation experienced by people in the bazaar, market and kitchen is much higher than the TÜİK [Turkish Statistical Institute] figures. The poverty that laborers, workers, retired and people are going through has come to a point where it can no longer be disguised,” said a statement read by the group.
The statement said that low-income families allocate 85 percent of their income to just three items: food, rent and transportation expenses. “On top of that, millions of people who have to lower these expenses to the minimum amount, cannot meet their needs of nourishment, accommodation or heating in a sufficient way.”
Demanding a pay raise of at least 86 percent, members of the group later burned their payrolls. They also shouted slogans of “Time will come, the wheel is going to turn, and the AKP will give an account before the public,” “Take the raise and shove it” and “Price rises, oppression, torture, there you have the AKP,” referring to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The government-run TÜİK reported an annual inflation rate of 78.62 percent in June, the highest since 1998, whereas the independent inflation group ENAG put the figure at 175.55 percent. TÜİK's rate raised eyebrows, with main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu calling on the organization "to stop committing crime” for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
(English version by Didem Atakan)