Citizens gathered to protest against rising prices of utilities in Turkey’s western city of Balıkesir that were introduced at the start of July, Bianet English reported on Wednesday.
Carrying banners with slogans like “We want wages to lead a humane life”, “Exempt the minimum wage from taxes” and “Enough is enough, we cannot make ends meet”, members of the Ayvalık Democracy Platform poured into Cumhuriyet Square to make their anger felt.
“We have come together to say, ‘Withdraw the price rises and increase the wages for a humane life.’ In the face of those who have lost their touch with the people’s realities, we would like to remind them of the real economy and living conditions of the people one more time from this square,” read a statement from the group.
The group also criticised inflation data published by the official statistics agency for not matching what people were experiencing in their daily lives. They warned that the recent gas and electricity price hikes were a harbinger of a wider rise in the cost of consumption goods in Turkey.
The platform made a series of demands that included cancellation of the recent price hikes, a commitment not to raise them again, an increase in workers’ wages to keep pace with inflation, and a tax-exempt minimum wage that would be updated bi-annually.
Inflation in Turkey has remained stubbornly high in recent years, owing partly to weakness in the Turkish lira. Fiscal and monetary policies have failed to effectively stem its growth, raising citizens’ frustration with what they feel is a decline in their quality of life.
Turkey’s official inflation rate rose to a two-year high of 17.5 percent in June.