A new wave of strikes erupts in Turkey as inflation surges

Surging inflation, poor working conditions and deepening poverty are pushing workers in Turkey into struggle amid a rising wave of strikes internationally.

On August 5, workers at two factories of auto parts manufacturer Standart Profil in Düzce and Manisa went on wildcat strikes and occupied their workplaces, demanding an additional raise and safe working conditions. After the strike, Düzce Mayor Faruk Özlü of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) threatened the workers, declaring: “[T]his illegal action is so bad that you are in danger of losing all your legal rights before the law.”

Over 2,000 workers joined the walkouts, which ended on August 9 after the company accepted workers’ demands. Accordingly, management will give workers a further 28 percent wage increase, a 1,500 Turkish lira (TL) shopping voucher, and take occupational health and safety measures.

The wildcat strikes at Standard Profil took place amid growing working class anger and struggles in Turkey and internationally against the steadily rising cost of living and falling real wages. Official annual inflation in Turkey rose to 79.6 percent as of July. The Inflation Research Group (ENAG), an independent research organization, calculated annual inflation at 176 percent.

Auto workers on strike in Turkey earlier this year

Management is slashing real wages for workers, who make up the overwhelming majority of Turkey’s population, by granting them raises far below the level of inflation.

According to a report by the pro-government Türk-İş confederation, the poverty line for a family of four rose to 22,280 TL ($1,240) and the hunger line to 6,840 liras ($380) in July. The minimum wage is only 5,500 liras. According to a survey by the Consumer Rights Association, 90 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line.

This unprecedented impoverishment actually means a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to finance capital. According to Prof. Dr. Şenol Babuşcu’s calculations, while the country’s banking sector’s profits in the first six months of 2021 was 34 billion liras, the profit in the first six months of 2022 skyrocketed 401 percent to 169 billion liras.

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