In Turkey, unfavourable economic conditions and exceptionally high inflation mean that workers, especially blue-collar workers, are struggling with the cost of living. However, thanks to a new collective agreement, the fall in real wages will reduce at workplaces affiliated to the metalworking employers' association MESS. This is a major achievement for our Turkish colleagues.
A recent significant increase in the national minimum wage, which will rise by 55% in December 2022, has led to wage convergence in the country. In all sectors in Turkey, the new guaranteed minimum wages are close to the collectively agreed wages. Unfortunately, this also means that the wage gap between unionised and non-unionised workplaces has narrowed.
This situation, combined with ever-increasing inflation, led the unions to initiate a new agreement. As a result, an agreement was reached between the unions Türk Metal, Birleşik Metal and Özçelik and MESS, the employers' association of the metal industry. It provides for the inclusion of seniority increases in the collective agreement. It was signed on 12 January 2022 and is valid from 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2023.
According to the agreement, for each year of seniority an extra amount will be added to the hourly wage of the workers. In addition, it was decided that if the inflation rate for the last six months in March was higher than 15%, the increase in consumer prices would be fully reflected in the wages to be paid on 28 February. This means that the total increase achieved under the agreement is an average of 34%.
The Turkish unions believe that this improvement will go some way to reducing the decline in real wages in MESS-affiliated workplaces and that they will see compensation for all inflation-related wage losses in the MESS group collective agreement for the years 2023-2025.
IndustriAll Europe congratulates the Turkish unions on this important victory. It should alleviate to some extent the cost of living struggles of the workers covered by the agreement.
Deputy General Secretary Isabelle Barthès says:
“Our member organisations continue to fight against the persisting cost of living crisis. And they are winning important battles. Like our Turkish colleagues with their new agreement for the metal sector. With this agreement, they have agreed a kind of automatic indexation with their employers. This is a source of inspiration for other countries.
"Standing side by side, we will continue our common fight: together, in action, for higher wages.”