Turkish statistical authority's minimum wage offer fails to satisfy workers, labour unions

Turkish Statistical Institute’s (TÜİK) proposal of 2,792 Turkish Liras as a minimum wage was not welcomed by workers and labor unions who call for at least a gross minimum wage of 3, 500 liras.

K. Murat Yıldız / Duvar English

Turkey’s Minimum Wage Commission convened for the third time on Dec. 22 with representatives from the government, business sector, and the labor force. The millions of people that will be impacted directly or indirectly are following the commission’s work closely.

At the meeting, which was hosted by the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ), the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) proposed a minimum wage of 2,792 Turkish Liras.

TÜİK argued in its presentation that, according to their calculations, the minimum cost of living for a single worker is between 2,339 liras to 2,792 liras depending on the type of job they are carrying out. At the 3 hours long meeting TÜRK-İŞ also voiced their opinions on the issue.

According to the potential scenarios and rumors circulating, the minimum wage will be determined by whatever inflation rate the commission takes as a reference for their calculations.

Sources note that if they go with the 8 percent annual inflation rate, forecasted in the official Mid-Term Economic Program," the basic minimum wage would be 3,178 liras (2,510 net). Alternatively, if the Central Bank’s 9.4 percent annual inflation rate is used for calculations the gross minimum wage would amount to 3,220 liras and the net to 2,542 liras.

Labour unions and workers are expecting the annual inflation to be calculated at 15 percent at least.

Inflation rate much higher than official figures

“We announced earlier this month that the gross minimum wage should be no less than 3 thousand 800 liras, especially during this pandemic. The inflation rate that people are experiencing is much higher than the officials claim. It is 40 to 60 percent for certain products such as some food products” Turgay Özdemir, an official from The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), told Duvar English.

“A fundamental problem now is that the minimum wage is no longer the minimum wage in Turkey. It has turned into the standard wage,” Özdemir concluded.

TÜİK's proposal is 'ridiculous' 

“Do they never go to the supermarket? Are they not paying rent, electricity, gas and water bills? Are they living in caves and tents? This is ridiculous,” a worker on minimum wage told Duvar English, criticizing TÜİK’s proposal of 2,792 liras.

According to TÜRK-İŞ, the poverty threshold in Turkey is 8,197 liras as of December 2020.

Meanwhile, DİSK rejected the amount proposed by TÜİK in a written statement to the press stating that they will stage protests demanding an "honorable salary" around the country. 

The commission is set to meet again next week at the Family and Social Policies Ministry.