Half a million might lose jobs if Turkey stops coronavirus wage support: restaurant association

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Between 300,000-500,000 people could lose their jobs if the Turkish government stops extending short labor pay — a wage support system that partially covers the wages of formally employed workers whose hours were cut due to coronavirus restrictions— the head of the Restaurant and Tourism Professionals Association (TÜRES) told the Bloomberg HT news network on Monday.

Ramazan Bingöl, the chair of TÜRES, told Bloomberg that the restrictions on restaurants took a heavy toll on the sector and that many businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy. 

According to Bingöl, delivery sales only account for 20 percent of the pre-covid profits of the restaurants, and the fact that the price of packaging material has increased 200 percent since last year means the costs are going to soar as well.

Stressing that the sector is in dire straits, Bingöl said employers might have to lay off between 300,000-500,000 employees depending on the government decision on whether to extend short labor pay or not.

Not only hotels but also some 150,000 cafes and restaurants serve the tourism industry, Bingöl underlined, calling on the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to protect the sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic, double-digit inflation and a slump in the lira’s value are hitting living standards in Turkey, putting many people into poverty.

Although the latest TurkStat data show around 4 million unemployed in Turkey, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK-AR) disputes its accuracy, saying the actual figure is around 10 million.

March 2021 data from the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş) show the hunger line, which refers to the amount a family of four has to spend on basic food expenses, to be TL 2,736 ($328.64).

The poverty line, which also includes the cost of rent and utilities for a family of four, is TL 8,912 ($1,070).

Meanwhile, the net minimum wage is TL 2,826 ($339.45), the lowest figure in US dollars for a monthly net minimum wage in the last 11 years.

Inflation in the country surged to 17.1 percent in April from 16.2 percent in March, according to official data published on May 3. 

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