The government increased its offer to a 3.5 percent raise for each half of the year for 2012 from an earlier offer of 3 percent but the unions remained undaunted in their demand for twice as much as what the government deemed fit. “This approach is one that ignores the public employees' rights,” said Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) President Lami Özgen following the unfruitful meeting in Ankara. He added that the civil servants were upset by what he called the government's “half-a-percentage point approach,” referring to the slight improvement the government made to its earlier offer. Scuffles broke out between police forces and KESK members as they attempted to enter the Labor and Social Security Ministry headquarters -- where the meeting was held -- to leave their signed petitions for the pay raise they wanted with the government representatives themselves. He pointed to Wednesday as a possible day of general strike for some 2.5 million civil servants but noted that all unions should first agree on the type and date of the protest they will take against the government.
Joining Özgen in publicly reacting to the government's offer were Turkish Public Workers' Labor Union (Kamu-Sen) President İsmail Koncuk and Civil Servants' Trade Union (Memur-Sen) President Ahmet Gündoğdu. “This is not something we can continue bargaining on. It is simply impossible to take this offer,” said Koncuk. Gündoğdu agreed that the “3.5 percent + 3.5 percent” offer was “too little” in a country where consumer inflation is above a staggering 10 percent. “And the government does not have any offer for next year either,” Gündoğdu added.
Parliament recently amended the law governing civil servant rights, giving civil servants the right to bargain collectively. Prior to the amendment to the law, civil servant unions used to meet with the government once a year for negotiations. However, they did not have the legal right to take to the streets, strike or undertake a work slowdown if the government turned their demands for a wage hike down. Memur-Sen demanded a 7.5 percent wage hike from the government for each half of this year. For 2013, it also demanded a “6.5 percent + 6.75 percent” wage raise package.