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Public workers prepare for demonstration on Oct 1

   
NationalANKARA - Public workers are preparing for a demonstration in front of Parliament building on October 1, as they could not reach an agreement with the government on the wage hike for the year 2004.

The wage negotiations between the government and the labor unions had been cut after the latter refused the government's TL 160 million offer for 2003 wage compensation and a 12 percent wage hike offer for 2004.

The Conciliatory Board, set up to find a way for the government's offer and labor unions' demands, recently suggested a 10 percent wage hike for the first half of 2004 and another 8 percent for the second half, while stipulated an extra net TL 200 million compensation for 2003 in order to cover the losses of civil servants.

Meeting on Thursday evening to continue negotiations upon the conciliatory board's suggestion, the parties failed to reach an agreement as the government did not revise its offer in attempt to avoid deviating from the targets of the economic program backed by the International Monetary Fund.

Turkish Public Workers' Labor Union (Kamu-Sen) and the government signed a memorandum of disagreement, while the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) withdrew from the meeting and refused to sign the memorandum.

KESK Chairman Sami Evren told reporters that they demanded the government to consider the conciliatory board's report and revise its offer but added that the government did not use this chance.

Evren said that they would stage a street demonstration in front of Parliament building in Ankara on October 1, when the deputies return from summer recess.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said that they could not accept the board's report as it was prepared regardless of the country's facts. Sahin said that there not available funds in state coffers to finance the proposed wage hike for 2004.

Kamu-Sen Chairman Bircan Akyildiz told a press conference after the meeting that the local elections, which are scheduled to be held in April 2004, were approaching, emphasizing that the government had a tough test to take.

Memur-Sen Chairman Ahmet Aksu called on the government cabinet to immediately convene and evaluate the conciliatory board's decision.

Stressing that they welcomed the board's decision, Aksu identified Thursday's meeting as "September 11 coup against civil servants." He noted that the current government also refused to give up his pledges to the IMF.
  
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