25 December 2018 21:26

'Everyone is being affected by the crisis but we are experiencing a problem in mounting a joint struggle'

We spoke to Gebze Trade Union Alliance Term Spokesperson Süleyman Akyüz about the minimum wage and struggle against the crisis.

Photograph: Evrensel

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We spoke to Gebze Trade Union Alliance Term Spokesperson Süleyman Akyüz about the minimum wage, crisis and struggle against the crisis. The key points from Süleyman Akyüz's observations were as follow:

“Although the crisis started in the summer months, its effects are only just being felt. The power holders, though, were in denial about the crisis for a long time.

The crisis saw shift workers losing their overtime. Then shifts were cut out. Then people were made to take accrued leave. Now there is talk of unpaid leave.

Our aim in staging a march and making a press statement in opposition to the crisis on 23 October was to send a message to all the workers of the country: we said, “We will not pay the price for the crisis.”

They are trying to make the workers pay the price again today. Unionized workers are opposing this to a degree but the workers are being made to foot the bill at non-unionized workplaces.

Everyone is being affected by the crisis but we are experiencing a problem in countering it jointly.

Today, many unions do not even accept the existence of a crisis. These unions cosy up to either the employers or the government.

The movement we are waging here has affected some places locally but, unfortunately, has had no impact at a confederation level.

The crisis has seen impoverished in the range of 35-50%. Inflation is very high but they are also keeping inflation low to keep the minimum wage raise low.

We say the minimum wage should be above the hunger level. To this end, the minimum wage should be above 2,500 lira.

The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions is calling for the minimum wage to be increased to 2,000 lira over the year and then for the addition of inflation and share of national wealth.

Opposition has grown to separating the minimum wage. They want to do this separation trade by trade.

If the minimum wage is set at around or below 2,000 lira, serious problems will emerge.

If the minimum wage is set at 2,500 lira this will also boost development. If there is no money in the worker’s pocket, who will buy the goods that are produced?

I cannot get the wage I earned in January in December. There are both tax deductions and I lose through inflation.

No entity or company in Turkey pays the tax working people in the country pay. Companies get tax amnesties but workers don’t. This is taxation injustice.

We want a raising of tax bands and a reduction of the rates.

The pension entitlement rate has been reduced. This may enable those who retire in this period to scrape by, but people who retire in five to ten years will have to work.

We think the injustice suffered by those caught out by the increase in the retirement age should be rectified.

The Flormar workers are waging a class struggle. This struggle is not just the struggle of a handful of people there. Support coming for this struggle is worthy of praise. All unions and the working class need to continue to stand by this struggle. (EVRENSEL DAILY)

Translated by Tim Drayton

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