Turkish trade union protests against tax hikes across country

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested against the recent series of tax increases in 20 provinces. In the protest that took place in Istanbul, the union demanded “justice in taxation.”

Duvar English

The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) on July 27 protested against the recent series of tax increases implemented by the government amid unstoppable inflation and growing current account deficit.

The union’s protest in Istanbul took place in Beşiktaş district with the participation of DİSK head Arzu Çerkezoğlu.

Çerkezoğlu said they demand “justice in income, justice in taxation. We are protesting to work humanely, to live humanely,” ANKA News Agency reported.

“New price hikes are coming every day for everything from fuel to food items. “We (workers) can't live with these hikes, these taxes. We are losing our purchasing power more and more every day due to the TÜİK inflation shown (deliberately) low. As the Turkish Lira loses its value, we are getting poorer every day. We are experiencing the consequences of the political choices of the AKP government,” she said.

“They say that Europe is jealous of us. Are they jealous that our country has become the cheapest labor paradise in the world? Are they jealous that Turkey has become a minimum wage society? Are they jealous that the minimum wage has become the average wage and that Turkey is the country with the lowest minimum wage in Europe?,” she added.

Çerkezoğlu also demanded all obstacles to unionization and the exercise of trade union rights to be removed.

Earlier this month, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a bill to the parliament under the name of “National Solidarity Package,” to reduce what it said was the financial burden caused by the Feb. 6-dated major earthquakes. The bill proposed doubling the motor vehicles tax (MTV) for vehicles. 

Afterwards, the government hiked the value-added tax on goods and services to 20% from 18% while it also increased tax collected on bank consumer loans. The government also raised the special consumption tax (ÖTV) on fuel by 200% in one day with a presidential decree.

The series of taxes came after the government budget recorded a deficit of 263.6 billion liras ($10.21 billion) in the first five months of this year, compared to 124.6 billion liras a year ago due to increased spending ahead of May elections and the impact of February's devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) reported an annual inflation rate of 38.21 percent in June, whereas the independent inflation group ENAG put the figure at 108.58 percent. Millions of Turks cannot make ends meet due to soaring cost of living.