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Turkish healthcare unions plan limited strikes amid lira turmoil

12/05/2021 | 11:46am EST

ISTANBUL, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Two Turkish unions representing more than 250,000 workers said they would hold limited strikes this week to protest against legislation covering healthcare salaries and pensions.

Turkey is facing mounting economic uncertainty triggered by a historic sell-off in the lira currency.

The Health and Social Work Labourers' Union (SES), which has nearly 20,000 members, said on Sunday it would "pause work" on Monday to protest at long hours, low pay, thin staffing and exhausting work conditions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Health Ministry representative was not immediately available to comment.

Separately, the Healthcare and Social Workers Union, which says it has nearly 250,000 members, said it would hold nationwide strikes on Tuesday and Thursday.

It cited the legislation adopted last week that it said granted doctors and physicians, but not other healthcare workers, higher pay rises and retirement pensions.

Semih Durmus, the union's chairman, called the law "discriminatory" against certain healthcare workers and called for broader pay raises.

A series of interest rate cuts since September has sparked a 27% plunge in the lira in the last three weeks, while inflation has jumped above 21%, badly eroding incomes and upending budgets of many Turks.

The country is logging about 20,000 new COVID-19 cases daily. (Reporting by Azra Ceylan; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Alex Richardson)

ę Reuters 2021
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