The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government proposed on Monday to increase the salaries of civil servants by 3 percent in each half of 2012, an offer that received a frustrated response from the country's 2.5 million civil servants. Memur-Sen President Ahmet Gündoğdu said the government's offer was "null and void" for them. “This is far lower than what we expected and it is not acceptable,” he asserted while speaking to reporters on Monday in Ankara. “We will take to the streets between 11 p.m. - 2 p.m. tomorrow [Tuesday],” he added.
Labor Minister Faruk Çelik told reporters on Monday, that the government has offered to increase the salaries of civil servants by a total 6 percent for this year. The minister said the wages could be increased by 2 percent in the first half of 2013 and by another 3 percent for the second half of the same year. Parliament recently amended the law governing civil servant rights, giving civil servants the right to bargain collectively. The government and the representatives of civil servant unions have been continuing talks to reach a compromise on wage increases behind closed doors in Ankara. Prior to the amendment to the law on collective bargaining by civil servants, civil servant unions used to meet with the government once a year for negotiations. However, they did not have the legal right to take to the streets, strike or undertake a work slowdown if the government turned their demands for a wage hike down. Gündoğdu recalled that Memur-Sen demanded a16 percent wage hike from the government in 2012 and 14 percent for 2013. “We expect the government to define the wage hike rates in line with the realities of markets … but this is not something that we could agree on,” he argued. Gündoğdu said the Turkish economy has maintained stable growth over the past few years and that civil servants expected to benefit from the increasing prosperity at a fair level. Memur-Sen earlier accused the government of trying to buy time following rumors that the government’s offer would come in at much less than expected. The unions made their wage increase proposals separately. “We received a proposal from Memur-Sen today [Monday]. We will receive the proposals separately from other unions through to the end of the week,” Çelik said. Turkish Public Workers’ Labor Union (Turkiye Kamu-Sen) and the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) are expected to lay their proposals on the table on Wednesday. Çelik said the latest offer was shared with the unions in separate written statements. The government and unions will discuss the details this week and are expected to meet on May 21 to make their final deliberations.
Asked whether the government expected all sides to reach a compromise on May 21, the minister said he has faith it will happen. “Of course an agreement that is realized with all the parties involved is what we expect as a government. We are discussing all factors openly,” he surmised. The minister’s remarks, however, sound “too optimistic to happen,” observers argued.