Turkey's Erdogan drops retirement age requirement for millions

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers his messages to the journalists in G20 Summit's news conference in Media Center, BICC, Nusa Dua, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia, November 16, 2022. ADITYA PRADANA PUTRA/G20 Media Center/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

ANKARA, Dec 28 (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan eliminated a retirement age requirement on Wednesday in a move that allows more than 2 million Turkish workers to retire immediately, less than six months before an election.

The announcement was made during a news conference and follows Erdogan's ruling AK Party delivering a hefty hike to the minimum wage last week as part of a campaign to win back voter support eroded by inflation, a fall in the lira, and a sharp drop in living standards.

The new arrangement will benefit people who started working before September 1999, when the law regulating retirement requirements changed, and who have completed 20-25 years of social security-registered working life.

Previously, the retirement age was set at 58 years for women and 60 for men.

Labour and Social Security Minister Vedat Bilgin said the new system would cost over 100 billion lira ($5.35 billion).

"We don't know how much more than 100 billion lira the new system will cost, because we don't know how many people will immediately decide to get retired under new system," Bilgin said on Thursday, speaking on state broadcaster TRT Haber.

Erdogan earlier said 2.25 million people were eligible to retire immediately. There are currently 13.9 million pensioners in Turkey.

Labour groups had been protesting the minimum age requirement for several years, asking that instead workers should just be required to complete the mandatory number of work days to retire. The move is seen giving a boost to Erdogan before a critical election due in June.

In two decades in power, Erdogan has overseen a crackdown on dissent and in recent years adopted unorthodox economic policies that helped push the lira down to one tenth of its value against the dollar a decade ago.

($1 = 18.7021 liras)

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; additional reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Grant McCool

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