The north’s minimum wage determination commission met on Wednesday, adjusting its monthly minimum wage for the first time since January to a net figure of 15,750TL.
The new minimum wage represents a 33 per cent increase on the previous figure and the largest Turkish Lira-value increase since the currency was revalued in 2005. It is set to come into force from July 1.
However, due to the dramatic decrease in the Lira’s value over the course of this year, the new minimum wage is worth less in Euros than what the previous figure was worth when it was adopted on January 1 this year. At that time, the minimum wage of 11,800TL was worth €590. Today, 15,750TL is worth €541.
This means that despite the new minimum wage figure, Turkish Cypriots earning minimum wage have received an effective 12 per cent Euro-terms pay cut since the start of the year.
The north’s minimum wage is now worth just over half the Republic’s current minimum wage, which is set at €940 per month.
The agreed figure garnered different reactions from the commission’s various members. Metin Arhun, vice chairman of the Cyprus Turkish employers’ union, who represents employers’ interests on the commission, described the figure as “reasonable”.
The north’s ‘Labour and social security minister’ Hasan Tacoy said he and his ‘ministry’ believe the new figure is greater than the north’s cost of living.
On the other hand, Ahmet Serdaroglu, chairman of the Cyprus Turkish trade unions federation, who represents employees’ interests on the commission, voted against the new minimum wage. After being outvoted, he launched a scathing attack on the process.
He disagreed with Tacoy’s assertions that the new figure is greater than the north’s cost of living and called for workers to take to the streets and protest against the new figure.
“I am calling out to the workers, do not give in to this any more! No one can achieve anything by staying sitting down. We will go to the prime minister’s office. If you don’t come, you will all be doomed to starve”, he said.
Serdaroglu also alleged that the new minimum wage figure had already been agreed without the involvement of employees’ representatives in covert meetings between ‘Prime Minister’ Unal Ustel and business owners.
He asked “if the ‘prime minister’ is going to agree the figure with business owners, what is the point of us sitting around this table?”