A pink convoy as Turkish couriers strike for higher pay

By and

ISTANBUL, Feb 3 (Reuters) - A convoy of hundreds of pink-clad delivery bikers rode through Istanbul's pouring rain on Thursday to protest at their employer's headquarters for higher pay, after Turkey's annual inflation leapt to a 20-year high near 50%.

The couriers, who work for the country's largest food delivery company Yemeksepeti, blared horns and waved to supportive drivers as they drove their pink motorcycles in busy traffic.

The drivers say they have been offered a 17% wage hike to 4,250 lira ($314) - the minimum wage level - but they are seeking a net 5,500 lira. Couriers with other companies have taken similar strike action over pay in recent weeks.

"We barely make ends meet. I have no savings. After paying the bills, the rent, kitchen expenses and my child's expenses, I don't even have a penny in my pocket at the end of the month," said courier Sinan Inan, who has been with the company for almost a year and says he works up to 12 hours a day.

Yemeksepeti declined to comment on the strike.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's push for unorthodox interest rate cuts and a resulting lira crash late last year drove inflation to 48.69% in January, eating deeply into the earnings of workers facing soaring living costs. read more

"I cannot afford anything with 4,250 lira," said Murat Ergen, another Yemeksepeti food driver. "What can I buy with this wage? Look, I don't even have gloves because I am buying those on my own as well."

The couriers said they began striking on Feb. 1 after failing to reach an agreement with the company on a pay rise and better working conditions.

The company was Turkey's first online food deliverer when it launched in 2001, and now has more than 27 million users and more than 60,000 member restaurants. In 2015 it was bought by the German-based Delivery Hero (DHER.DE).

"We can't afford our daily needs, you know? If you want to live like a human, you have to get a higher salary. If they don't give us this, we will continue this strike," said Firat Diler, another company courier.

Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Janet Lawrence

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.