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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20 November 2019

Turkey: Report evidences ongoing exploitation of Syrian refugees in garment industry, despite brand efforts & commitments

Author: Temiz Giysi Kampanyasi (Clean Clothes Campaign Turkey)

"Syrian Workers in Turkey's Garment Industry: Looking Back, Moving Forward", 12 November 2019...

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27 May 2018

Turkey: ILO deal aims to provide Syrian refugees with decent work opportunities in the garment sector

Author: Michelle Russell, Just-Style

"ILO deal to help Syrian garment workers in Turkey", 16 May 2018...

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13 April 2018

Turkey: Garment sector adopts living wage initiative

Author: Just About #Turkey

"Turkey garment sector adopts living wage initiative", 12 April 2018...

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6 November 2017

Turkey: Shoppers at Zara find notes from unpaid factory workers sewn into clothes; incl. company comments

Author: Sarah Young, The Independent (UK)

"Unpaid labourers are 'slipping pleas for help into Zara clothes'", 4 November 2017...

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21 August 2017

Turkey: Dutch garment brands cannot guarantee child labour-free supply chains, report concludes

Author: Hannah Abdulla, Just Style

Supply chain mapping pinpoints child labour links in Turkey, 9 Aug 2017...

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7 August 2017

Positive steps to eradicate child labour in Turkish garment sector

Author: Nicole Pope, Fair Wear Foundation

"How the Syrian conflict is impacting the Turkish garment sector"...

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25 July 2017

Guidance on integrating Syrian refugees in Turkish supply chains

Author: Foreign Trade Association (FTA)

"Syrian Nationals Working in Turkish Supply Chains", Feb 2017...

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26 June 2017

Business human rights responsibility for refugees & migrant workers: Turning policies into practice in the Middle East

Author: Samentha Goethals, Joseph Bardwell, Mariam Bhacker, & Bahaa Ezzelarab, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in Business & Human Rights Journal

...Our focus in this piece is to consider how companies have been implementing their human rights responsibility to address the risks and challenges faced by refugees and migrant workers in the Middle East, a region that is currently experiencing...

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5 April 2017

Stronger legislation and enforcement needed to protect workers’ human rights, recommends Joint Committee on Human Rights

Author: Joint Committee on Human Rights

Over the course of this inquiry we were pleased to hear of the growing importance of human rights issues to businesses, consumers and government. Indeed, developments such as the Gangmasters Licencing Authority and Modern Slavery Act have caused real...

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13 March 2017

Turkey: How do Syrian refugee workers challenge supply chain management in garment industry?

Author: Emre Eren Korkmaz, International Migration Institute, University of Oxford

"How do Syrian refugee workers challenge supply chain management in the Turkish garment industry?"...

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