Turkish unions set to launch 2 hours strike on Friday

Turkish unions set to launch 2 hours strike on Friday

The Labor Platform of Turkey will suspend work for two hours on Friday to protest the social security and general health insurance bill. The protest is expected to stop transportation, street cleaning, education and health services from 10 a.m. (GMT 1200) to noon.

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This means that municipalities will suspend their services, whereas in-city transportation and cleaning services will halt. Also, no flights will take-off for two hours; teachers will not join classes; doctors will not take care of patients except emergencies. The bill gradually raises the retirement age of women and men to 65 (actually 58 and 60, respectively) and the number of days they have to work from 7,000 to 9,000.

The labor unions and the opposition parties criticize the reform saying that it raises the threshold for workers to reach retirement to a very high level of 9,000 days. The government says the current retirement ages of 44 for women and 48 for men are not sustainable and the existing system encourages early retirement.

Turkey's social security deficit exceeded 25 billion lira ($20 billion) 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. Turkish parliament is expected to approve the bill later this month.                               









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