Despite the “rosy pictures” being painted in the economy, poverty is on the rise in Turkey. The increased price of basic outlays such as food and accommodation has outstripped wage increases. The minimum monthly subsistence expenditure for a worker has risen above 2,000 lira. Basic expenses have increased in price by 100 lira over two months and close to 450 lira over the past year. This means that expenses have increased at double the increase in the minimum wage. A civil servant on an average salary of 3,147 lira spends 2,068 lira per month on food and accommodation alone. A mere 1,079 lira is left over from the salary for all remaining needs. Retirees’ situation if pitiful. They are all below the poverty level and 75% of them obtain pensions at below the hunger level. It is impossible to get by in Turkey under these conditions. The latest situation of workers, civil servants and retirees is as follows:
-WORKERS: Nearly seven million workers try to get by on the minimum wage in Turkey. Given that there are 13.8 million workers in total, half of all workers are on the minimum wage. The minimum wage, which was increased from 1,404 to 1,603 lira at the start of the year, is very far from a living wage. The minimum wage, which was below the hunger level even when it was announced, does not even approach the minimum monthly outlay needed to subsist. According to Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions’ research, the monthly cost for a single person to subsist exceeded 2,000 lira for the first time in February and amounted to 2,022.08 lira. And the necessary outlay for a family to lead a dignified existence has risen by 93 lira in the first two months of the year. The increase over the past year, on the other hand, amounts to 437 lira. With the minimum wage increasing by 199 lira, this means that the annual increase in expenditure is more than double the rise in the minimum wage. It is impossible for a worker, let alone a family, to get by on the current minimum wage of 1,603 lira.
Lion’s share goes on accommodation and food
-CIVIL SERVANTS: The situation is no different when it comes to civil servants. The average civil service salary is 3,147 lira. According to research by the Confederation of Unions of Public Employees of Turkey, the average food and accommodation expenses of a four-person civil servant’s family comes to 2,067.49 lira. The family’s food expenses alone amount to 1,244.04 lira. A civil servant devotes 65.7% of their average salary to food and accommodation expenses. There remains a mere 1,079.46 lira from the wages of a civil servant relying on the average salary to meet other necessary needs such as transport, health, education, communications and clothing. A family’s minimum monthly expenses are in the region of 5,400 lira. Given that the average civil service salary is 3,147 lira, the civil servant is out of pocket to the tune of 2,253 lira every month.
Retirees in worse straits
-RETIREES: As to retirees, their situation is far worse than that of workers and civil servants. According to information provided by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions Retirees’ Union, retired workers obtain average pensions of 1,500 lira, while those of retired civil servants average 2,100 lira. Retirees try to subsist on pensions all of which are below the poverty level and 75% of which are below the hunger level. 60% of retirees have loans outstanding to banks. 25% of them are subject to recovery proceedings. Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions Retirees’ Union Chair Veli Beysülen also says that there are retirees whose pensions are docked despite having paid contributions in the past, their workplaces cited as having been “bogus.” Beysülen, pointing out that refunds of pension payments made to such people are also demanded, said, “There is talk of 30,000 people being affected. If the workplaces were bogus, no contribution was paid for these people, so it would have been better not to make them retired. How did these people retire?” From information that Beysülen imparted, those who have paid contributions on the minimum wage currently get a pension of 600-700 lira. Beysülen, noting that the government has announced that those on pensions below the average wage will have their pensions brought up to the minimum wage, said, “And they proclaim this as if it were good news. This, if anything, can only be shameful.”