Syrian refugees: Abuse & exploitation in Turkish garment factories

An estimated 650,000 Syrian refugees (numbers continue to rise) have fled their home country to escape bloodshed and have found a lifeline working in Turkey, with many working in the garment industry. Without these jobs, many families would face desperate times and would struggle to support themselves. However, the garment industry in Turkey is complex and exploitative conditions are too common. Since 2015, reports and investigations have exposed poor wages, discrimination, and child labour by Syrian refugees working in the Turkish garment industry.

Since February 2016 we have released three reports analysing brands' action to tackle this abuse based on their responses to survey questions we devised with the help of unions, refugee and worker organisations.  In July and August 2017 we visited Turkey to assess recent developments and speak to people on the ground.  Our reports can be accessed on the left.

Below is a collection of the latest news and resources on this important issue.

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Article
1 March 2014

Syrian women refugees humiliated, exploited in Turkey

Author: Brender Stoter, Syria Pulse

A few months ago, Dima found a job in a cotton factory in Reyhanli, a Turkish town near the border with Syria. In the first few weeks, everything went fine — until her Turkish boss, a middle-aged widower, began to sexually harass her. “I told him I...

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Article
31 January 2015

FWF Guidance for Affiliates: Risks related to Turkish garment factories employing Syrian refugees February 2015

Author: Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)

Since the start of fighting in Syria in 2011, it is estimated that 1.6 million refugees have escaped to Turkey. There is currently only space for 220,000 people in formal refugee camps in Turkey, and while the Turkish government has been widely...

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Item
5 March 2015

Participation of Foreigners in the Turkish Labor Market Under the Temporary Protection Act" - Roundtable Summary & Outcomes Report

Author: Fair Labor Association, Ethical Trading Initiative

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Article
31 August 2015

UPDATE: Status of Syrian Refugees in Turkish Labor Market

Author: Fair Labor Association

The FLA has met with the Ministry of Labor in Turkey in early September to discuss potential interim solutions that companies can implement on their own, without government actions. Two such solutions, stop-gap measures suggested by the Ministry of...

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Article
16 October 2015

Turkey: Syrian refugee children forced into labour

Author: CBS

"Refugee children forced into labor in Turkey",  22 September 2015...

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Article
18 November 2015

Turkish bosses could exploit Syrian labour amid obligatory wage hike, experts warn

Author: Furkan Demirdoven, Today's Zaman

"Turkish bosses could exploit Syrian labor amid obligatory wage hike, experts warn", 14 November 2015...

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Story
2 December 2015

Syrian refugees working in Turkey - vulnerable to exploitation

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Article
3 December 2015

Turkey: Around 250,000 Syrians working illegally in Turkey - at risk of exploitation

Author: Reuters

As Turkey prepares to give more Syrians the right to work, thousands of Turkish bosses are already benefiting from cheap and illegal Syrian labour, raising concerns about the treatment of vulnerable members of the world's largest refugee community....

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Article
5 January 2016

Syrian migrants in Turkey set up shop, seeking the right to work

Author: Piotr Zalewski, Financial Times

Spearheaded by the likes of Mr Fansa, a migrant economy [in Turkey] is beginning to take root. With a population of 77m, Turkey is home to more than 2.2m Syrians, nearly four times the number at the end of 2013... An estimated 400,000 have found...

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Article
6 January 2016

Turkey: Influx of Syrian refugees causes child labour boom

Author: Didem Tali, Al Jazeera America

Adil, 16, is one of more than 400,000 Syrian children in Turkey working in the informal economy instead of continuing their education. He has been at the same shop for the past three years, making what he describes as “a third to half of what Turkish...

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