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What do Workers get as the Turkish economy grows?

Prime Minister and the AKP government tell us that we should be happy: Because Turkish economy is growing. Turkish economy is the second fastest growing economy after China. Well done! What does this economic growth cost? What do workers get from it? All worker friends should ask themselves these questions?

The global crisis which rocks European countries and mainly the USA these days affected Turkish economy in 2008 and 2009. Then Turkish economy shrank nearly 15%. We workers paid the cost of this shrinkage once again. Over one million workers lost their jobs, wages were frozen, prices of any items hiked, working day was lengthened and working tempo increased. The AKP government said that the crisis was only “tangent to” the Turkish economy. The crisis might have passed “tangent to” the bosses, but workers know it very well that it hit them in the heart. Any worker concludes this simple fact from her/his live. We must keep that in mind.

Now let’s look into this growing economy. The AKP government said that Turkish economy would be the tenth greatest economy of the world by 2023, which was put forward as a target. For workers this means harder work, more exhaustion, more work accidents, more injuries and deaths for the sake of bosses’ profit. This is same everywhere in the world. Bosses care only their profit. Capitalists of our land are not different from other countries’. Their goal is to grow through exploiting workers. The working class only gets a bare minimum wage from what it produces which does not even meet basic needs. So, in capitalist system economic growth makes mainly bosses happy.

Let’s go a bit further: In Turkey, last year ten thousand millionaires joined the club of millionaires according to official statistics. Now, the total number of millionaires has reached 42 thousand. And the number of billionaires increased from 28 to 38 in Turkey according to Forbes. That means that Turkey has most billionaires among the Middle Eastern and African countries. The economic growth in Turkey is mostly benefitted by the bosses and the share the working class gets is diminishing. Now, why should we the workers be happy with this economic growth?

And, what about our conditions as workers? Is there any real betterment in our conditions as our labour is constantly being siphoned off to the coffers of bosses? For a long time, our rights and gains have been under attack. We lost many of our gains. Now, another package of attack is in the pipeline, which contains doing away with severance payment. With this package they seek to make it much more difficult for workers to get severance payment which would be much less, advance further flexible and casual work and working under subcontractors, introduce slavery offices (so called private employment offices) which was tried but could not be introduced before. Actually working under subcontractors has already been widespread. Working under subcontractors in either public or private sector means that unionization is too hard. Number of union workers is permanently decreasing.

On the other hand, working day is de facto increased. Unemployment and low wages force workers to work overtime. Nearly in all factories, 12-hour shifts are commonplace. The tempo is increased as well. This lengthened and intensified work, together with insufficient safety precautions, results in increased work accidents. Turkey is the third in the world list of occupational accidents and illnesses. Now we should ask again: at the expense of what the Turkish economy, or more precisely the bosses’ capital, grows? This growth is composed of workers’ elbow grease, lives, and blood! Capitalist system remains standing at the expense of workers’ blood and lives.

We should also remind unemployment, poverty, rising prices: two and a half million people are unemployed, twelve million people live under poverty line. Unemployment rate is 18% for young population. While minimum wage is barely enough for just house rent, the AKP government is not hesitant to raise prices. In fact, according to Turk-İş, starvation line is 900 TL for a family of four and the poverty line is 2,939 TL. But the minimum wage is only 659 TL. Now, can the AKP government, Prime Minister Erdoğan or bosses explain us how we could be happy?

And the worst is yet to come for the working class. Although the AKP government and bosses say that economy is growing, the global crisis is still out there. European economies are on the verge of collapse.  Stock markets across the world are in constant convulsion. That the countries like Turkey and China are growing in the middle of the global crisis should not be misleading. These growth rates cannot be sustained. Current global crisis is a deep one and is continuing. When the effects of crisis hit Turkish economy in near future, the working class will have to pay the bill like in 2008 and 2009. That’s why, we should not believe such lies as “the clouds are going” and “sunny days are coming”. To fight back the attacks and not to pay the bill of the crisis we should get organized at once.

To overcome the ongoing capitalist crisis imperialist-capitalist states fight each other over markets and investment spheres as they seek to put the burden of crisis on the back of the working class. The scramble and wars in Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa are just manifestations of crisis and imperialist war. And the ruling circles of Turkey prepare themselves for military clashes in order to get their share. Unfortunately what lies ahead for the world is not peace. As long as capitalist system survives this would keep being the case. But on the other hand in many corners of the world, in the US, Greece, Spain, France, Israel, Japan, Britain etc., the working masses take to the streets and fight in order not to pay the bill of the crisis, to stop destruction of nature and imperialist war. We should raise our voice too, and join the struggle that has been waged by our class brothers/sisters across the world.

15 October 2011

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