Economic support in earthquake zone insufficient -experts

Economic support in earthquake zone insufficient -experts
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Economists said wage support and layoff ban in 10 cities was insufficient to protect workers and businesses from financial impact of severe earthquake

An economic assistance program that provided wage subsidies and banned layoffs in 10 earthquake-damaged cities in Turkey to protect workers and businesses was insufficient, experts said.

Under the economic relief plan, employers whose jobs were "severely or moderately damaged" will receive wage subsidies for workers whose hours were cut, the country's official gazette said Wednesday.

A ban on layoffs was also introduced in 10 earthquake-damaged provinces. Both measures were apparently aimed at reducing migration from a region that is home to 13 million people.

Because of the narrow scope of the decree, employers are still allowed to terminate employees without severance pay, citing reasons such as 'absenteeism, morale, and goodwill rules'

“The prohibition of dismissal is introduced by the Decree Law, but cases that did not comply with the rules of morality and goodwill, including absenteeism and similar reasons, were exempted from the prohibition. However, the most important problem in the earthquake area is not going to work. Although the earthquake is a legitimate excuse, it is abused by employers,” said Aziz Celik, a specialist in social policy and labor economics.

According to Celik, in case of violation of the prohibition, only administrative penalties are provided for employers. However, in the event of a layoff, it should have been clearly stipulated that the employee's wages and all social rights would be paid by the employer and that the process of reinstatement would begin.

Another economist, Enver Erkan also said the scheme should have covered other areas.

"People whose homes or businesses are damaged are now seeking jobs outside the disaster area," he said. "It is also necessary to provide incentives to businesses who employ workers in the earthquake area."

In Turkey, 865,000 people are living in tents and 23,500 in containers, while 376,000 are in student dormitories and public guesthouses outside the earthquake zone, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Erdogan has promised swift reconstruction, although experts say it could be a recipe for another disaster if safety steps are sacrificed.