UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights Endorses FTA’s Guidance Package on ‘Syrian Refugees Working in Turkey

22-09-2016

Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Dante Pesce, has recently endorsed the Guidance Package on ‘Syrian Refugees Working in Turkey’ that FTA has launched in an effort to support companies and their local producers to better understand, respond, identify, as well as to prevent and mitigate abuses and exploitation of Syrian refugees in their supply chains in Turkey.

Commenting on the guidance, Mr Pesce said: “It is indeed a timely and valuable initiative by the FTA to provide a comprehensive Guidance Package to its members and their producers about Syrian refugees working in Turkey. This clearly reflects how responsible businesses actually look beyond their profit margins and voluntarily leverage their corporate strength to protect the rights of vulnerable workers – especially such as those fleeing conflict from Syria into Turkey.

Aligned with the core values of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – namely the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework – this Guidance demonstrates the need for an accountable approach to addressing supply chain challenges, monitoring progress, and implementing learnings in a transparent manner. It is also important to note that the FTA, as a business association, has embedded the UN Guiding Principles into its Code of Conduct for its members from its very inception and continues to uphold human rights as a core value that underpins its activities and ensures sustainable supply chains”.

In the latest report that was submitted to the UN General Assembly, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially in Women and Children, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro highlighted this Guidance Package as a good example of a private sector initiative aimed “to help companies that operate in areas with presence of refugees to understand and identify indicators of risk with regard to labour exploitation and to assist them in implementing due diligence measures to prevent and mitigate labour abuses within their supply chains”.

Member companies sourcing from Turkey as well as other stakeholders including Save the Children Sweden provided input to the formulation of this guide, which draws on the current working conditions of Syrian refugees, such as contractual arrangements, working hours, remuneration in cash or kind, access to social protection and occupational health and safety. Furthermore, direction is provided on access to the labour market, such as legal constraints and barriers that prevent migrants from accessing the formal labour market, and share of the migrants working in the informal economy.

The guidance has been positively received by companies and key stakeholders, according to Darrell Doren, FTA Senior Director Sustainability in an interview with Behind the Thread. Discussing the release of this publication he said: “this Guidance Package is in response to the deep concerns expressed by our members about reported issues in their supply chains in Turkey. Together with FTA, they remain very committed to ensuring that appropriate measures are taken to mitigate rights abuses and all forms of exploitation in their supply chains. The Guidance emphasises the importance of protecting and respecting the human rights of this vulnerable group, whilst complying with local laws and legislation.”

In practical terms, this Guidance Package raises awareness of refugees’ vulnerability to exploitation along with actions which can be taken, including:

  • Developing internal policies;
  • Enhancing audit procedures in the first and second tiers of supply chains to detect the presence of refugee workers; and
  • Putting effective remediation in place where unregistered Syrian workers were found to be employed.

The main Guidance Document is supplemented by three related annexes: ‘Pre-Audit Evaluation’, ‘Suggested Policy for Syrian Refugees in Turkey’, ‘NGO and Support Service Organisations for Migrant Workers and Refugees in Turkey’, along with legislative documents from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of the Republic (ÇSGB) in Turkey.

For more information, please contact Anisha Rajapakse, Senior Manager Stakeholder Engagement.

This article was originally published on 29 July 2016.

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