Turkey’s commission that is set up to determine what the country’s minimum wage should be, for the first time heard from a worker who highlighted the country’s economic difficulties for those living on the minimum wage.
Security guard Gulden Gormez told the commission that she barely scrapes through and at the end of each month she has a mere three liras to spend. That is less than a dollar.
Mother of two Gormez, who works at Yalova University, spoke of the financial difficulties faced by millions of Turks living on the minimum wage. Gormez said that after paying her arrears only three liras are left for her to spend each month.
“I have only three liras left to spare after I pay my arrears,” she said.
The minimum wage determination commission started work last week at the Ministry of Family, Employment and Social Services.
The commission has been convened to set the minimum wage for 2019, and Gormez attended their first meeting to represent some seven million workers in Turkey who live on the minimum wage.
Gormez also hosted journalists at her home in Yalova and talked further about her living conditions and the difficulties of living on minimum wage.
Talking about how wage is eaten up by the monthly bills and expenses, Gormez said the minimum wage is not enough to sustain a livelihood.
“I started using gas heating 15 days ago, and this is the bill for this period, 150 liras. I already paid the rent which is 850 liras, and together they both make 1000 liras. I also pay credit card installments, which is 650 liras. When I pay that, the total is 1650 liras. Although I am paid for travel and meal expenses, since I have to eat at work, I pay for it there as well. The travel expenses are also high and I go to work every day, which leaves me with only 3 liras out of my monthly wage of 1603 lire.”
Explaining why she uses her credit card, Gormez said, “I have to pay the bills using my credit card. If I hadn’t reached the upper limit in one of my credit cards, I pay the bills with it. Then using my other credit card, I pay my arrears on the other card, and it goes on like this every month.”
She expressed her hope that her presence at the commission would help improve the situation of those living in minimum wage conditions.
“I am not the only person who live such a life. There are those who can’t even afford a credit card, those who try to make a living with that wage. People can’t send their kids to school. This wage is not enough to sustain a family sending their children to schools which have their own expenditures. They will have to pay for travel with the school minibuses, and there are other needs. It doesn’t work. Today we have pasta for dinner, that should say it all. Everyone is aware of the difficulties those who live on minimum wage face.”
Gormez also expressed her expectations, stating, “It all depends on their (the commission’s) sensitivity and their awareness. I hope. I would like to see the minimum wage to be above two thousand liras and that the inflation rate is reflected in the wages. The inflation is very high at the moment. If these are realized, we can have a bit better quality of life, although it will still not be enough. It would at least give us some room to breathe.”