At 7 pm on Sunday, 19 April, hundreds of people gathered at Taksim Square, having followed the call of the 7th Package Initiative.
The protest was joined by striking journalists from the Atv-Sabah group, by veteran striker Emine Arslan, and striking workers from leather manufacturer Desa, Meha textile workers, Sinter metal workers and and Kurtiş printing workers.
Speaking for the iniative, Can Atalay said, “We started with 7 people on Tuesday, and were 77 people by Thursday. We aimed for 777 people today.”
“We are here to shout out our seven demands to the government, which is reducing prices of luxury cars and diamonds while workers are unemployed and citizens cannot look after their children.”
Members of the initiative are individuals who define themselves as victims of the economic crisis. In the “7th package” they demand 7 things from the government and local authorities:
- Value Added Tax (VAT) should not be charged for medication and basic food goods, and there should be no price increases in these goods. Taxes, fixed charges and fund cuts on electricity, water, natural gas, telephone and Internet bills should be abolished.
- Credit card debt interest should be erased, and the remaining debts should be repaid with a 2-year pay plan.
- The minimum wage (gross income 666 TL a month) should be doubled and not be taxed.
- Dismissals should be forbidden, work hours should be shortened without any cuts in wages.
- All unemployed people should be given an “unemployment card”, which would provide them with a 50 percent decrease in electricity, water, natural gas, telephone and Internet bills and free-of-charge public transport. Unemployment benefits should be raised and more people should be able to benefit from them.
- People under the poverty line who are living in rented accommodation should be offered rent support. Urban transformation programmes should be stopped.
- Starting with the poorest, a “citizenship income” should be paid immediately. This income should be a quarter of the minimum wage for single persons and gradually increased for families.
Around 500 people joined the protest. The initiative has also started a signature campaign, which has gathered over 3,000 signatures in the last week, and it is planning further activities to draw attention to unemployment, poverty and inequalities.
“We are aiming for 7,777 signatures at the end of our campaign. Seven people will go to parliament to present the list to MPs. In addition, we are starting a campaign from 25 April onwards, in which we call on people to switch their lights off for seven minutes at 9 pm every night. We also invite citizens to preserve seven minutes of silence in front of their workplaces at 12 o’clock every day. Also, between 25 and 30 April, we are starting a campaign of not eating for one day under the slogan ‘Those who sleep with a full stomach while their neighbours are hungry do not belong to us.’”
The protesters walked along İstiklal pedestrian precinct to Galatasaray High School, booing in front of Desa and Lc Waikiki stores. They reminded spectators in front of the High School that strikers from Atv and Sabah newspaper were on their 68th day of strikes and called for solidarity with strikers. (EZÖ/AG)
Click here for photos of the protest.