Turkish unions: Economic recovery must translate into wage increase

Saying that Turkey’s economic recovery must translate into a real increase in workers’ wages, the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ) presented to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security 17 proposals to amend the public sector’s collective agreements. 

TÜRK-İŞ General Financial Secretary Ramazan Ağar explained that their proposals are comprised of 17 administrative and financial articles, including social assistance payments and a call to increase the lowest gross wage of a public worker to TL 4,800. 

Ağar, who is also the President of the Turkish Union of Road Construction and Building Workers (YOL-IS), said that for 2021-2022, the workers’ requested for a 20 percent pay rise for the first 6 months and a 3 percent rise for the remaining months. 

The trade union issued the proposals coinciding with a statement made by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) that the country’s growth rate in the first quarter of 2021 grew by 7 percent. 

“The 7 percent growth rate is an extraordinary economic recovery for Turkey. I don't know how they calculated this, but in the past, like in 1980, when there was a 60-6.5 percent growth rate, this was reflected in the pockets of the people. Now it is not reflected at all,” Ağar said. 

Ağar, who is leading the collective bargaining negotiations on behalf of TÜRK-İŞ Confederation, said that the government should side with the workers “for once” on this matter. 

“The demand for a 20 percent wage increase for the first 6 months is normal and reasonable considering that the annual inflation rate of 30 percent. This will affect nearly 3 million people. The money given to the workers returns to the market within 15 days. We do not expect a surreal wage as the prices of  consumer goods have increased,” he said.