27 December 2018 10:01

2018 labour report of Turkey: Wage erosion, unemployment more workers’ deaths

2018 saw unemployment, insecurity, poverty and death becoming cloaked in acceptability, the erosion of wages and an increase in workers’ deaths.

Photograph: Pixabay

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The CHP Labour Offices under the coordination of CHP Deputy General Chair Veli Ağbaba have compiled a report on developments that took place in the world of labour and work. The report, which draws attention to the increase in redundancies, unpaid wages and attacks on unionization in tandem with the economic crisis, indicates that someone thousand workers continue to struggle at sixteen workplaces for unionization and to return to their jobs and get paid. Stating that thousands of workers have been usurped of their acquired rights through postponement of bankruptcy, the report notes that the unemployment fund has been opened up to plunder and usurpation of severance pay is on the cards once more.

TEN THOUSAND WORKERS MADE REDUNDANT IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER

  • The report, noting that the unemployment rate hit a high in 2018 and redundancies assumed mass scale, imparts the following information:
  • Official unemployment figures rose by 330,000 against the previous year to 3.75 million.
  • The number of broadly-defined unemployed rose to 6.4 million.
  • The youth unemployment rate was calculated to be 21.6%.
  • Turkey numbers among the seven countries with the highest youth unemployment among EU countries.
  • Over 2018, 1.2 million people applied for unemployment insurance. In November alone, 207,000 people made applications for unemployment insurance.
  • The rate of female unemployment did not fall below the 19’s per cent in 2018.
  • Nearly ten thousand workers were made redundant in September and October of 2018.
  • Mass redundancies took place mostly in the metal, construction and textile sectors.
  • Nearly one thousand press and broadcasting employees lost their jobs in conjunction with the economic crisis over 2018.

NEARLY TWO THOUSAND WORKERS’ DEATHS IN 2018

There was no change yet again this year to the dark picture painted by workers’ deaths in Turkey. According to the report, going by unofficial figures nearly two thousand workers and seventy child workers lost their lives while working.

Workers’ deaths once more occurred mostly in the construction, agriculture, transport and mining sectors. With 95% of those who lost their lives being non-unionized workers, 228 workers of retirement age also perished while working.

With at least 65 mining workers losing their lives this year in uninspected and illicit mines, nearly two hundred construction workers were killed.

Drawing attention to the Cengiz-Limak-Kolin group of companies, notorious for workplace manslaughter, the report comments, “These companies continue to train their sights on workers’ lives. With 52 workers having lost their lives according to official figures at the third airport tendered out to this group of companies, it has emerged that sub-contracting companies engaged by these companies were also involved in the viaduct disaster occurring in Gebze that led to the death of three workers.”

THE CRISIS HAS ERODED WAGES AND WORKERS’ LARDERS ARE EVER BARER

Eroding wages was another issue highlighted in the report, and eroding wages and workers’ purchasing power have declined by virtually fifty per cent. Pointing out that the minimum wage has fallen to five times below EU countries’ minimum wage, the report notes that basic foodstuffs have become a luxury on workers’ dining tables.

From figures given in the report, with the minimum wage purchasing 7,000 eggs in January 2018, this had fallen to 4,000 at the year-end. The minimum wage earner, able to buy 447 kilos of raw onions, could purchase 250 kilos of raw onions by the end of the year. Minimum wage earners saw no meat on their dining tables this year. A worker, able to buy 29 kilos of meat with the minimum wage in January 2018, was able to buy 20 kilos as the year ended. Thanks to increases made to the price of electricity, water and natural gas in 2018, one-fifth of the minimum wage went on bills.

SUBCONTRACTEES’ PUBLIC PAYROLL HOPES DASHED AND STATE ENTERPRISE WORKERS FORGOTTEN

Noting that the public payroll measure for subcontracted workers had also dashed workers’ hopes, the report recalled that the promise of public payroll status to 80,000 state enterprise workers had not been kept. According to the report, in place of the public payroll rights for 1.2 million workers the government had announced, transfer to companies has been envisaged. Nearly 275,000 workers have been excluded from the public payroll measure without any reason being cited. (EVRENSEL DAILY)