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9 Feb 2023

Jasmin Malik Chua, Sourcing Journal

Turkey: Impact of earthquakes on textile workers remains uncertain as industry operates in ‘triage mode’, incl. survivors housed in textile mills & production at limited capacity or on hold

"Turkey’s Textile and Garment Industry is in Crisis", 9 February 2023


MSC, the shipping firm also known as Mediterranean Shipping Company, wrote in an email that none of its vessels have been affected and that it will be diverting shipments, including all bookings meant for Iskenderun, to Tekirdag unless customers inform it differently. All booking cancellations, amendments and changes of destination, as well as demurrage at destination will be free of charge for Iskenderun bookings throughout the month of February, it said...

Ramazan Kaya, president of the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers Association, told Sourcing Journal that it’s still too early to determine the impact of the earthquakes on the country’s garment sector, one of the world’s top exporters.

“Even though there is no big damage at the factory level since they are relatively new buildings, we have limited information about the situation of our employees and their families due to the destruction and damage in the residential areas,” Kaya said. “We hope that the situation will become clear as soon as possible.”

While the head offices of most textile companies are in Istanbul...the areas surrounding the epicenters are chockablock with production plants. Orta Anadolu, for instance, has a mill in Kayseri. Calik Denim has one in Malatya, and Bossa another in Adana. These so far appear intact.

Orta Andolu told Sourcing Journal that it will be continuing production and does not expect any delays in its operations...For Calik Denim, its focus is on supporting those in need in Malatya. “After the earthquake risk analysis…we welcome people who are in need in the region, especially our employees, their families and relatives, in our mill and we work with strength 24/7,” a spokesperson said.

Bossa, too, will be continuing production, according to a disclosure to Borsa Istanbul, Turkey’s stock exchange. Rubenis Tekstil, which has production facilities in Sanliurfa, and Sasa Polyester, which has operations in Adana, also told Borsa Istanbul that they will carry on as usual.

Better Cotton wrote on its website that its farmers and program partners are among the victims and many members, such as ginners, spinners and traders, are based in the afflicted areas. The impact on the affected populations, including those engaged in cotton production and processing, has been “devastating,” it said.

“We are gathering information on the extent of the impact on Better Cotton farming communities and will be able to share more information with our members and stakeholders in the coming weeks,” the world’s largest sustainable cotton initiative said. “Better Cotton is looking at ways to support the Better Cotton community in affected areas.”

Halit Gümüşer, managing director at Kipas Holdings, which operates Kipas Textiles in Kahramanmaraş, one of the impacted cities, said that the industry will have a better handle on the extent of the devastation next week.

“Depending on denim, non-denim fabrics, greige knit or woven fabrics or yarn, the situation is different,” he told Sourcing Journal. “But the main problem is labor. People are really in terrible condition. It will not be easy to find motivated people to work.”...

“Let’s hope we will recover quickly with help of all our apparel partners,” Gümüşer said...

For now, the sector is in triage mode. Some undamaged textile mills in Diyarbakir, for instance, are being used to house survivors as they pause production, according to Textilegence News Hub. Adana and Malatya are operating at 20 to 25 percent capacity, the outlet said, while in Sanliurfa, everything has been put on hold because employees can’t get to work. Damage to gas pipelines and electrical infrastructure could pose additional challenges for recovery.

Meanwhile, the Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters Association is asking for donations. Cash is urgently needed, but so are winter clothes, shoes, blankets, diapers, heaters and food.

“Türkiye was hit by massive earthquakes on Monday,” it said in a statement. “Thousands of people have died and unfortunately the death toll is rising. We extend our condolences to the families of those affected and wish quick recovery to all the injured.”...

The Fair Labor Association (FLA), a multistakeholder organization that promotes human rights in the workplace, has offered guidance for brands sourcing in Turkey. Those who source from one of the 10 affected provinces, in particular, should try to get in touch with their suppliers to understand the impact of the earthquakes on workers and factory structures, “even though doing so may be difficult.”

Brands should discuss with their suppliers their business continuity plans and provide technical assistance if necessary. They should also examine the timelines and delivery dates of existing orders, extend deadlines accordingly and clarify, where possible, key requirements their suppliers must meet in order to resume production, such as access to services and utilities and assurance of structural safety.

“Even if your suppliers are not located in one of the impacted cities, your suppliers might be working with some of the raw material and upper-tier suppliers from this region,” said the organization, whose roster includes Adidas, Patagonia and Reformation. “Therefore, FLA recommends checking with your direct supplier to ascertain the situation of your indirect suppliers.”

The Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI)...has also advised international buyers to “play a role in recovery, ensuring they engage and support their affected suppliers, workers, and their representatives, during this state of emergency.”

The ETI...said it will be engaging with company, trade union and NGO members to assess the impacts of the disaster on workers and supply chains.

“We will develop recommendations for effective business response which should include enhanced human rights due diligence and responsible business practices,” it added. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those affected, as both countries work to free survivors from the rubble and rebuild their lives.”