Voices of discontent are spreading in Turkey as energy prices rise

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  • Complaints about utility bills proliferate after inflation jump
  • Government spokesperson says action must be taken on the issue
  • The Alevi minority federation says it refuses to pay the bills

ISTANBUL, Feb 8 (Reuters) – Shopkeepers, city councils and a religious group spoke out on Turkey’s rising energy bills on Tuesday, while doctors staged an all-day strike over working conditions. labor as a wave of inflation-fueled discontent swept across the country. country.

Inflation jumped to almost 50% in January, raising the cost of living for Turks who were already struggling to make ends meet after a currency crash in December triggered by the unorthodox low interest rate policy of President Tayyip Erdogan.

The government has raised the minimum wage by 50% this year in response to the turmoil. But it also raised the prices of gas, electricity, petrol and road tolls to account for volatility in import prices, pressure on household budgets and worsening poverty. Read more

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The Alevi religious minority in Turkey has decided not to pay the electricity bills of the cemevis where they worship. Read more

“Come cut off our electricity. Our cemevis are not business premises, they are our places of worship,” Alevi federation leader Celal Firat said on Twitter, where he posted a 30,000 electricity bill. lire ($2,200) owed by his Alevi association.

Some restaurant owners posted window notices showing rising electricity bills, as seen in social media posts. Oguz Kaan Salici, deputy leader of the main opposition CHP party, said some households’ electricity bills were as high as their rent.

“People no longer know what to do, at home or at work. Citizens can no longer cope. Stop price hikes immediately!” he wrote on Twitter.

CONSTRAINTS ON CITIES

Record currency depreciation and soaring prices hit Erdogan’s opinion polls ahead of elections due no later than June 2023. Government says credit, exports and investment will help the country cope to inflation.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a new measure on electricity bills would be announced “very soon”, telling TV channel A Haber on Monday: “We will not let our citizens be crushed by inflation. “.

Mayors of 11 cities, including Istanbul’s Ekrem Imamoglu, have called for central government action to ease the “unbearable” burden of rising energy prices. “Significant cost increases now make it difficult for local governments to deliver services,” they said in a joint statement.

Their demands included an exemption from VAT and the special consumption tax for fuel used by municipalities, as well as reduced tariffs for the use of electricity and natural gas in public transport.

HEALTH WORKERS STRIKE

Doctors and medical staff staged a nationwide one-day strike to protest poor working conditions and demand better rights and service delivery.

Health workers have also complained about deteriorating living standards and said they face a more hostile work environment amid Omicron’s COVID-19 spike and patient dissatisfaction.

“We can’t get out of this. Our salaries have been seriously eroded, of course like everyone else, but we are trying to practice our profession in a very risky environment,” said Deniz Devrim, 46, a family doctor during of a demonstration in Istanbul. by a hundred health workers.

Dozens of health workers were also on strike outside a hospital in Ankara.

“We will keep fighting until we get our rights,” said Volkan Tumer, a member of a commission of young doctors, complaining of extremely long working hours, poor wages and limited personal rights. .

($1 = 13.6293 Lira)

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Additional reporting by Cagla Gurdogan in Ankara; Written by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Catherine Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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