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

Author: Furkan Demirdoven, Today's Zaman, Published on: 18 November 2015

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

In an ambitious competition with opposition parties prior to the Nov. 1 election, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) vowed to raise the base wage from TL 1,000 ($347) to TL 1,300. While there was no discussion on who would be responsible for covering the increased employment expenses, once the AK Party clinched the majority of votes, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said employers will have to shoulder most of the burden. Business unions, however, have begun to voice their concerns about the possible increase in their costs, seeking alternative ways to compromise on the hike. İbrahim Çağlar, the chairman of the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO), said a 30 percent increase in the minimum wage would cost employers an extra TL 16 billion a year and requested that the government reduce social security premiums....

Amidst all the debates, Sami Karahan, a professor of commercial law at Marmara University, tweeted on Wednesday in a veiled criticism of the government's policy during the Syrian crisis: “Nobody will give TL 1,800 in gross wages to a worker when they can employ a government-backed Syrian for TL 600 all-inclusive”...

Even though the government allowed Syrian minors access to the Turkish schooling system, more than 400,000 Syrian refugee children in Turkey are not able to attend school, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report last Sunday. “He works eleven-hour daily shifts at a garment workshop where he earns 50 Turkish lira (approximately US$18) per week,” the report said, highlighting the dismal state of 9-year-old Mohammed, who escaped Aleppo to arrive in Mersin early this year. Featuring the stories of many other Syrian children, the report disclosed a newly emerged trend in which companies even exploit the workforce of minors apart from working-age Syrians to benefit from lower employment costs. A research study initiated by the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) said in January that some 200,000, or one out of 10 Syrians, were working in Turkey, most of whom are said to be employed without social security insurance...

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