Critical week ahead in Turkey's civil service pay talks

Critical week ahead in Turkey's civil service pay talks
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Government expected to make first pay hike offer as unions seek quarterly raises.

Negotiations between the Turkish government and public sector unions continue this week over pay raises for the country's 4 million and 2.5 million retired civil servants.

The talks, which began on August 1, have entered a critical phase as the government is due to present its first pay rise offer to the unions tomorrow.

If the first offer is rejected by Memur-Sen, the largest civil servants' union, the government will return to the table on August 17 and 22 with new proposals.

If no agreement is reached, the dispute will be submitted to the Civil Service Arbitration Board starting August 23. The board is expected to decide on the new contract by the end of August.

Haci Bayram Tonbul, the deputy chairman of Memur-Sen, said that although the atmosphere of the talks has been positive so far, this week marks the beginning of the critical phase of the negotiations.

He said the unions expect the government's opening offer tomorrow to reflect market realities and not just inflation targets. Tonbul said the confederation's "reasonable demands must be met.

Memur-Sen is seeking a wage increase of up to 35% in the first quarter of 2024, followed by incremental increases of 10-15% in subsequent quarters. For 2025, he proposed a 25% increase in the first half and 15% in the second half.

The government is pressured to offer substantial wage increases as Turkey grapples with more than 79% inflation. But it also faces fiscal constraints.

This week's talks will indicate whether a compromise can be found or whether the dispute will end up requiring the intervention of the arbitration board.