Turkish parliament to debate IMF-sought labor reform on Thursday

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Turkish parliament to debate IMF-sought labor reform on Thursday
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Mart 25, 2008 09:52

Turkey's parliament will begin discussion of a long-delayed IMF-sought social security bill on Thursday, Labor Minister Faruk Celik told the official Anatolian Agency on Tuesday, a day after reaching a partial agreement with the unions.A union leader said on Monday there is still no agreement on the 80-90 percent of the controversial parts of the bill. (UPDATED)

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Turkey's social security deficit exceeded 25 billion lira ($20 billion) or 4 percent of GDP in 2007, and officials warned it would reach nearly 30 billion lira this year if the reform is not passed. The long-delayed social security reform aims to cut this huge deficit and one of the conditions for the release of a 1.3 billion dollars IMF loan tranche.  


The government and the unions came to an agreement on some portions of the bill, including a figure of 7,200 working days needed for blue-collar workers to reach retirement.  


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But no agreement was reached on a key part of the package, more closely followed by financial markets and the International Monetary Fund, to raise the retirement age to 65.


"No new steps could be taken regarding the raising of the age of retirement to 65 (actually 58 for women and 60 for men) and concerning the evaluation of 30 percent of the updating coefficient during the calculation of retirement pensions," Celik told reporters late on Monday.


One of leading unions', Turk-Is, chairman Mustafa Kumlu told reporters after the meeting the discussions will be continued on the part that they couldn't agree. "We couldn't reach an agreement on 80-90 percent of the 19 articles (of the bill). We continue our discussion on these issues," he added.


Kumlu also said they would evaluate the situation unless there is an agreement over the remaining parts of the bill, when asked what the unions would do if their demands are met.


The reform proposed by the government has been harshly criticised by labor leaders and opposition parties. Turkish unions launched on March 14 two hour warning strike to protest against the sought social security and general health insurance bill. The transportation, street cleaning, education and health services stopped during the strike.   


Haberin Devamı

"Some of the articles of the new law will be effective immediately. A few others will be effective as of May. Still some other articles will be effective as of the end of August or the beginning of September," Celik previously told the AA.

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