Turkish public sector employees are set to defy interior ministry warnings and stage a general strike on Friday to protest a proposed limited pay rise. The strike has been called by 15 trade organizations and non-governmental organizations following a series of mass demonstrations across the country in recent months.
During the strike, public transport and educational services are to be interrupted while in hospitals only emergency care units will function. Turkish trade unions are widely opposed to the government plans to give a 10 percent pay rise to public workers in the first half of 2001 in line with a tight economic program backed by the IMF.
Unionists claim the planned hike is not sufficient and will push workers into further economic hardships, while the government says it will not let employees suffer and will make extra funds available if inflation in the second half of next year falls above target.
The chairman of one of Turkey's biggest trade unions, KESK, said at a news conference Thursday that they expected over one million people to participate in the strike. "The public sector will stop functioning tomorrow. This will be a big strike and we expect the government to answer our demands," Siyami Erdem said, according to the Anatolia news agency.
But the interior ministry warned in a circular that public sector employees are banned from holding strikes or go-slows, and requested local authorities take legal action against strikers.
Under a three-year, four-billion-dollar stand-by deal with the IMF approved in December last year, Turkey is aiming to bring inflation to 10 percent in consumer prices and 12 percent for wholesale prices at the end of 2001. — (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )