Turkey’s minimum wage not enough to buy food, trade union says

A typical four-member family living off the minimum wage would not be able to make ends meet, with even basic food expenditure exceeding the minimum wage, Turkey’s biggest trade union confederation.

In October, the monthly food expenditure for a four-member Turkish family, known also as the limit of hunger, has been realized as 2,058 lira ($360), exceeding the minimum wage, 2,020 lira ($353), according to a report by the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Turk-Is).

It also calculated the monthly cost of living in October for a single worker as 2,526 lira ($441), again staying above the minimum wage set last year by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

For the same period, the limit of poverty, which is calculated by adding the food expenditures with the compulsory expenditures such as clothing, rent, electricity, water, and heating, has stood at 6,705 lira ($1,171).

The Turk-Is research, which has been conducted every month for 32 years, is prepared independently, without using the price data collected by the Turkish Statistical Institute, the authority responsible for producing official statistics in the country. The input used in the calculations is directly collected from the markets, grocery stores and local street markets by its experts.

In the previous month, the figures for the limit of hunger and poverty were 2,065 ($360) and 6,725 lira ($1,175) respectively.

However, in October last year, the hunger limit recorded 1,919 lira ($335), while the poverty line was 6,252 lira ($1,092), the latest research said.

“Inflation decreases as the purchasing power of people decreases,” concluded the Turk-Is study.

The increase in the number of vegetables and fruit being sold in the local markets also played an important role in the decrease of the hunger and poverty lines in October, according to the Turk-Is report.

In October, the average price of fresh vegetables decreased from 5.41 lira to 4.94 lira. The average price for fruit was 5.85 lira last month, while it is 5.29 lira this month.

The minimum monthly wage, enforced by law, applies to a large number of employees in the country as more than one-third of Turkey’s 30 million-strong labor force is paid it.

In addition to monthly salaries, married minimum-wage workers receive additional Minimum Living Allowance (AGI), which is around 192 or 330 lira changing according to marital status, employment status of spouse and number of children.

The determination of minimum wage has been a hot debate in society as Turkish Lira has plunged through last year and high inflation has hit the prices. Turkey has been simultaneously struggling to overcome high inflation, high unemployment and a high current deficit, particularly in 2018.

47,000 Turkish citizens owe more than 1 million lira in tax debts

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