Donos and her colleagues were turned down when they asked their boss for a wage increase of €25, on top of their current salary of around €300. They need it to pay for rising energy costs. On the second day of the strike, they all received a text message that they no longer had to come to work.
“They say: This is our policy, this is what we pay. If you don’t accept this, there is the door,” Dunos says, surrounded by her colleagues who nodded in agreement. “I’ve given fourteen years of my life to this company. We don’t ask for anything they can’t afford. This company is doing well, and we’re making socks for export here.”
Textile industry as a substrate
While Donos and her colleagues are campaigning in the cold, an export fair for the textile industry is being held on the other side of Istanbul. Importers travel from all over the world. The head of the Textile Export Association, Mustafa Gültepe, said that Turkish textile exports are the largest in the world after China and Bangladesh.
The industry is working overtime, especially since the Corona pandemic. Many European companies wanted to leave China and knock on Turkey’s door because of socks, underwear, jeans and T-shirts, he said. “It’s easier for European companies to do business with us because of the cultural similarities.” And yes, he admits, Turkey has also become a lot cheaper due to the severe depreciation of the Turkish lira.
Gultepe, who also owns a textile factory, realizes that excessive lira fluctuation is not good for business. After all, the production of socks and T-shirts requires imported materials, and their prices are rising significantly. Despite this, textile exports are on the rise. Its annual turnover reached 12.9 billion dollars, and Turkey’s textile exports reached a record high, According to the pro-government newspaper, Al-Sabah†
The value of the coin is almost halved
This is exactly what President Erdogan says he wants to achieve through his unconventional interest rate policy. The story goes that by keeping interest rates low, it stimulates investment and production. The weak lira and lower labor costs could make Turkey a bigger exporter.
This appears to be at the expense of the purchasing power of ordinary people. The lira lost 45 percent of its value last year. Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to refuse to raise interest rates. In an effort to smooth things over, he announced last week a cut in value-added tax on food from 8 to 1 percent.
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