A wave of strikes sweeps over Turkey

  • Faced with galloping inflation, which officially stands at 48% per year, Turkish workers are taking to the streets en masse

  • Dozens of large Turkish companies see how their employees decide to join the protest to demand a salary increase

the concierge of the office building is still asleep when, from down the street, there in the distance, they start ringing hundreds of speakers. It’s early morning and the winter rain’s Istanbul He soaked in the asphalt for hours. They are hundreds of motorcyclesall pink, all roaring.

Their drivers too, some raising their arms and shouting, all in the same direction: towards the building protected by the solitary caretaker. The building is almost empty, but the street is full.

“The situation is so bad, so bad that I don’t even know how to explain it. To be here today and protest for my rights, I have to ask for days off, when I should be using them to be with my family, my children, instead of being here right now. in the rain. But here we are, unfortunately. What it does to us the company it’s a shame”, he complains walled upone of the German company’s hundreds of motorized delivery drivers and one of the largest Turkey, Yemek Sepetiwhose delivery men have been on strike for more than two weeks.

The strike at this company, however, is just one of many: As 2022 begins, Turkey is filled with companies – many of them the largest in the country – whose workers have decided to stand down. striking. The reasons are simple: an out-of-control inflationary crisis and some wages whose value has been reduced by almost half.

Highs and lows

It’s a storm announced: with the book crash, the Turkish currency, at the end of 2021, inflation was expected to soar earlier this year. And so it was: in January, according to official figures, inflation in Turkey is 48%, although there are few people who believe this figure of the official institute of statisticswhose president is changed from time to time by a Recep Tayyip Erdogan who does not like the figures that this body makes public.

According to independent studies, real inflation amounts to about 115%. A totally uncontrolled number. “The minimum wage is far from enough. Which of you would work for turkish minimum wage in these working conditions? They make us work 12 hours a day. If we deliver an order late, they discount it; if we damage the motorcycle, they discount it. If you think minimum wage is decent, go ahead and work for yourself. We won’t,” he said. Aykan, partner of Murat in the strike. A caucus formed around him. Everyone applauds.

The Turkish lira is falling and so is the value of wages. In July 2016, the minimum wage was equivalent to 450 euros. In July 2021, 345 euros; today equals 270 euros.

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“In the days, months and weeks to come, we will see all this resistance grow like an accordion. It will grow like a snowball and it will explode in April, when inflation peaks,” he said in a media interview.Arti Gercek’ Irfan Aktanpresident of one of the largest labor unions from the country.

“There are already dozens of workers in struggle and many more will come,” says Aktan. And it seems that he is right: a few days ago, the storekeepers of the supermarket chain The largest in the country went on strike – the police charged inside the warehouses – and the security guards of the Istanbul Airportlargest in Europe, threaten to be next.

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Meanwhile, the concierge is still there, in front of the offices, although he no longer protects them because now those who guard the doors are the riot police and their shields. In front of them, hundreds of delivery men with their motorcycles. Everyone screams, everyone screams. They have been coming every day for more than two weeks and, they say, they will continue here until their wages are adjusted to a rate of inflation which, with each passing day, continues to rise. uptrend.

“We don’t want or ask for anything more than a few decent conditions Aykan said. We want to be able to live from our work. Is that too much to ask? No, it is our right to demand it.”

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