FTA Takes Action on Protection of Syrian Labour Rights in Turkey


On 6 March, FTA in collaboration with Otto Group, El Corte Inglés, and ESPRIT held the multi-stakeholder forum on protection of Syrian labour rights in Turkey in Hamburg, Germany.

The event brought together 70+ influential stakeholders, including companies sourcing from Turkey, UN agencies, NGOs, associations as well as academics. Prominent experts on migration issues in Turkey from the International Migration Institute, University of Oxford, Fair Labour Association (FLA), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) discussed ways to tackle the complex challenge facing the country. Current estimates show that there are between 250,000 and 400,000 Syrians working in the garment industry in Turkey. However, according to the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security, just over 13,000 work permits have been issued to Syrian nationals across all sectors in 2016 – approximately 2,000 of those to the manufacturing sector – stressing the fact that there is still a large informal sector where workers might suffer precarious working conditions.

Key outcomes from the discussion include: 

•    Foster greater engagement and collaboration with multiple stakeholder partners, including relevant Ministries within the Turkish government, to deepen dialogue and foster accountability;
•    Accelerate closer relations between Turkish and international businesses and their local suppliers to go beyond tier 1 enabling increased supply chain transparency;
•    Facilitate a strategic platform for businesses to align, including other stakeholders and partners to protect Syrian workers; and
•    Promote responsible business practices through the possibility of incentivising suppliers/producers on the ground to transition the informal sector into the formal market.

The event also provided FTA the opportunity to present its updated Guidance Document ‘Syrian Nationals Working in Turkish Supply Chains’, which aims to support businesses in dealing with this matter.

Following the discussions during the event, FTA is now preparing a joint action plan that will be shared with the forum participants and made publicly available in the coming weeks. This key document will aim to provide a long term remedial strategy with the aim of guiding and influencing top-level decision makers towards fostering increased protection of Syrian labour rights in Turkey.

For more information, read the full press release.

Contact: Anisha Rajapakse, Senior Manager Stakeholder Engagement – Foreign Trade Association

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