Turkey: Rapid growth in GDP not reflected in minimum wage
Turkey’s rapid economic growth admired and praised by the country’s private sector has not been reflected in the minimum wage yet, according to representatives of the Turkey’s leading labor unions demanding an increase of the wage to 1,000 Turkish Liras.
“Turkey’s economic growth has not been reflected in the minimum wage,” Serkan Öngel, director of Research at the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions (DİSK) told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview yesterday. “If Turkey is growing at 8.2 percent, why does an employee have to earn 796 liras,” he said. If the country’s economic growth was reflected in the minimum wage between 1979 and 2010, the minimum wage would be 1709 liras, he said. “But it’s obvious that while employers increase their profits, workers struggle to feed their family with the minimum wage.”
However, Tanıl Küçük, Istanbul Chamber of Industry (ISO) said total cost of a labor working on a minimum wage cost already more than 1,000 liras to the employer yesterday. “The minimum wage in Turkey is already higher than the many European countries with which we are trying to compete,” said Küçük. Turkey has to consider that the European economic crisis carries significant risks and bare this mind while increasing the minimum wage, he said. Taxes on employers continue to be a burden, which prevents the country’s competitiveness in labor intensive businesses, he added.
“Employees working on the minimum wage have been already subjected to heavy taxes,” Lami Özgen, president the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) told the Daily News yesterday. He said a minimum-wage-earner has to pay an average of 200 liras from his salary in addition to indirect taxes from the spending. “This is unacceptable, the minimum wage should be increased to 1,000 liras and it should be exempted from any taxes,” he said, adding that increasing the minimum wage to this amount would neither hurt the state nor private companies to a great extent. “It might cause some profit loss for large private companies, but living conditions of employees cannot be scarified for the sake of the private sector.”KESK goes on strike today across the country demanding Turkish government to increase minimum wage to 1,000 liras in order to improve the living conditions.
“If the minimum wage were increased to that amount, maybe the country would not go bankrupt but companies would,” said Mehmet Şimşek, Turkey’s Finance Minister speaking at a meeting on Dec.19 in Ankara. He said Turkish government has to consider Turkey’s competitiveness in manufacturing when deciding to increase the minimum wage.