Nine trade union federations have sent a joint letter to the public services minister calling for immediate pay negotiations. The unions are concerned about the long-term erosion of purchasing power. At the beginning of this year the national minimum wage (SMIC) rose to EUR 10.25 an hour (EUR 1554.58 a month) and this meant pay rates at the bottom of the Category C public sector pay grade fell below the minimum. Instead of increasing the index point on which all public sector salaries are based, the government simply added two index points to these lowest pay rates. The unions point out that the index point has lost 20.79% of its value since 2000 and if the lowest pay rates were increased to compensate for this then salaries would be EUR 321-325 higher than they are now. Meanwhile in the health and social care sector home helps are set to get pay increases from October in a new agreement that will provide a monthly increase of EUR 99 for unqualified workers currently stuck on the minimum wage and EUR 362 for a carer with qualifications. However, demonstrations continue, with a mobilisation on 8 April, highlighting the fact that not all health and social care workers are benefitting from the national deal to increase pay by EUR 183.
Public service and health unions active on pay
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On 9 October the KTAMS civil service union organised a day of strike action in all workplaces in which it organises in protest at the sharply falling purchasing power of workers' pay. A steep decline in the Turkish Lira has led to much higher inflation, leaving the minimum wage effectively below the poverty level. The union wants to see legislation that will ensure the increasing cost of living is reflected in workers' pay on a monthly basis. During the day's strike action, KTAMS is organising a march to the parliament to present its proposals.
The KKDSZ culture worker's union delivered a petition with 3000 signatures to the ministry of culture on 22nd January calling for immediate negotiations on pay. The petition was the initiative of employees of the Fine Art Museum and was taken up by KKDSZ. Some workers in the sector have not had a pay rise for over 10 years and 80% of qualified staff have to survive on only EUR 580 a month (gross).
The health workers' union has called for increased funding for the sector to deal with the major problem of healthworkers' pay. The union reports that an analysis of wage developments in the first half of 2017 found that average pay for doctors and other medical staff actually fell in seven Russian regions while in contrast wages in industry increased. The wide range of salaries across the country is exacerbating staff shortages and the union highlights the fact that in many institutions the pay bill is the first to be cut in order to fund other areas of health spending.