Protecting Syrian Refugees From Labour Abuses


The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is concerned about conditions for refugees that have fled Syria's civil war to neighbouring countries such as Turkey, where adult and children represent a vulnerable population and risk labour exploitation.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over a million Syrian refugees are currently in Turkey and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) points out that approximately 60% of Syrians crossing into Turkey are children, some without any close relatives. One out of ten of them are working long hours in poor conditions across diverse sectors – notably domestic work, agriculture, shops and also construction and textile manufacturing – in order for them and their family to subsist. This places them at a high risk of labour exploitation. 

Turkey is the third most significant sourcing country for BSCI participants after China and Bangladesh, and producers supplying BSCI participants are expected to comply with the eleven core labour rights set out in BSCI's Code of Conduct. BSCI and its participating companies consider the eradication of child labour to be a top priority, as emphasised during the text's 2014 revision, where the principle of "No Child Labour" was reinforced and complemented by a specific principle highlighting the need for "Special Protection of Young Workers". 

BSCI believes that strong stakeholder engagement is decisive for addressing such complex social compliance challenges. BSCI counts on its Stakeholder Council, which includes representatives from Save the Children and UNICEF, to seek advice and guidance for BSCI on best practices and remediation measures to address the current situation of vulnerable and particularly young refugee workers in Turkey. Moreover, BSCI has held two CSR Round Table meetings with local stakeholders in Istanbul this year, the most recent during July, and a third one will be held on 22 October, where the situation of Syrian refugees will be an important topic on the agenda.

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