Report reveals Turkey’s minimum wage workers unable to meet basic needs

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A report by the Research Center of the United Metal Workers’ Union (BISAM) has revealed that a minimum wage worker in Turkey is expected to spend only TL 22 ($2.8) a day on food for a family of four, showing that the minimum wage in Turkey is far from meeting basic needs.

BISAM released a report on Thursday based on Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data for the consumer price index (CPI) and household consumption expenditures as well as minimum wage statistics from Turkey’s Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services.

According to the report, a minimum wage worker in an average family of four is expected to spend as little as TL 1.85 ($0.24) for each meal of a family member, which amounts to a daily outlay of only TL 22 ($2.8) for food for the household.

A minimum wage worker is expected to spend a monthly amount of TL 667 ($86) for food, while the starvation line for a family of four, which refers to the minimum amount of money with which they can eat healthily for a month, is TL 2,439 ($317). Based on the data, the report says each member of a minimum wage worker’s four-person household eats only one meal per day.

Turkey’s minimum wage worker is also expected to pay TL 464 ($60) for monthly rent and TL 725 ($94.5) for housing expenses, while the average monthly rent in the country is TL 1,113 ($145).

“This means that the family of a minimum wage worker in Turkey has to live in houses in unhealthy environments with few appliances and high earthquake risk,” the BISAM report adds.

The report also showed that a minimum wage worker must work for nearly eight years in order to save enough money to buy a refrigerator since the worker can only save TL 37 ($4.8) for home appliances a month and an average fridge costs TL 3,561 ($464).

Minimum wage workers are further expected to send their children to school with a monthly allowance of as little as TL 10 ($1.3) for their stationery supplies. It is also impossible for those families to purchase the necessary mobile devices for attending distance learning courses during the coronavirus pandemic, the report stated.

Turkey’s minimum wage worker also cannot afford to see a theater play or movie since the average cost of a theater ticket and a movie ticket is TL 56 ($7.3) and TL 22 ($2.8), respectively, while the worker can only spend TL 6 ($0.7) for cultural and recreational activities in a month.

“Turkey’s minimum wage workers demand the ability to meet their basic needs and those of their families with a wage that will allow them to stand on their own two feet and end the poverty in the country,” the report concluded.

Turkey’s net monthly minimum wage, which is earned by almost a third of the workforce, for workers with four-member households was TL 2,435 ($317) for 2020.

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