Worker representatives reacted harshly to the statement of the Minister of Labor and Social Security, Vedat Işıkhan, that there would be a single increase in the minimum wage in 2024. Arzu Çerkezoğlu, President of the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), said, “This is condemning the worker to starvation.” Prof. Dr. Veysel Ulusoy said, “First measure inflation properly, reduce it, and then you will have the right to speak.”
Answering the questions of journalists after the cabinet meeting held the previous day, Minister Işıkhan said, “We are working for a single increase in the minimum wage of 2024. “We will not hold a second meeting in July, we think there will be no need for a second raise,” he said. This statement, which came despite the official inflation expected to rise to 70 percent in 2024, caused a reaction from worker representatives and economists.
Stating that workers should be given at least four raises a year until inflation drops to single digits, DİSK President Arzu Çerkezoğlu made the following comment:
“When we said that two raises were required a year, they were told ‘no way’. They had to. Likewise, they are obliged to make four raises a year until inflation drops to single digits. Workers are experiencing a great loss of purchasing power. Everyone knows that TURKSTAT inflation, which is the basis for salary increases, does not reflect the real cost. In this situation, giving workers a raise according to the target inflation rate or once a year means dooming them to starvation. “In addition to giving workers four raises a year, they also have to give them a share of the growth and increasing national income that they always boast about,” he said.
Inflation Research Group (ENAG) founder Prof. Dr. Veysel Ulusoy said: “The esteemed minister wants to take the lead with this discourse. Wage increases and the number of increases are determined by the market, real inflation, and the rates offered by ENAG, not by a minister. False statistics that deviate from the realities of society and are used for labor theft, as well as discourses about the minimum wage, are already empty. “First you will reduce inflation with real policies, then you will have the right to speak.”
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WORKERS
On the other hand, the government’s insistence on increasing the minimum wage according to the “target inflation” will create a “chasm” between workers and civil servants. The inflation target for next year in the Medium-term Program is 33 percent. If this rate is taken into account, the minimum wage, which is currently 11 thousand 402 liras, will increase to 15 thousand 165 liras.
On the other hand, the lowest civil servant salary, which is 22 thousand liras, will be given a 15 percent collective bargaining increase in January and this wage will increase to 25 thousand 300 TL. The inflation difference in the second half of this year will also be added to this. Minister of Labor and Social Security Vedat Işıkhan pointed out that the increase in January 2024 for retired civil servants and civil servants will approach approximately 50 percent and said, “The lowest civil servant salary will increase from 22 thousand 17 lira to approximately 33 thousand lira.” In this case, there will be a difference of approximately 16-17 thousand liras between the lowest civil servant salary and the lowest worker wage.