UPDATE: Status of Syrian Refugees in Turkish Labor Market

Author: Fair Labor Association, Published on: 31 August 2015

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 Labor during the meeting, may help improve conditions for Syrian refugees until more permanent and comprehensive solutions are put in place.

1. Application for New Investment Projects with Employment of Syrian Refugees — Ministry of Labor representatives told the FLA that the government can issue work permits for Syrian refugees who are employed in new investments that export 100 percent of their products. These kinds of new investments (including new factories of existing suppliers) would have to be vetted by the Ministry of Labor and, if deemed fit would be approved with the work permits issued for this specific purpose.

2. Registration of Syrian Refugees with ISKUR (Turkish Employment Agency) for Job Skills Training Programs — [I]nvolves registering them with ISKUR’s vocational training program administered by the government. Registration with ISKUR programs is not restricted based on nationality3, so it is possible for employers to contact ISKUR offices and enroll Syrian refugees into this program.

WORK PERMITS ARE THE BEST SOLUTION: Neither of the stop-gap measures outlined above represent a sustainable solution for Syrians in the Turkish workforce. The FLA continues to fully support the creation of a work-permit process for refugees, so that their rights at work are protected just the same as those of Turkish workers. In the meantime, all FLA affiliated brands are encouraged to share these work-around solutions with their suppliers in Turkey. As these potential solutions remain largely untested, the FLA would be very interested in following up with any affiliates who choose to test these options. To share your experience, please contact local FLA staff Alpay Celikel ([email protected]).

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