The Foreign Trade Association (FTA), leading business association for global commerce, in collaboration with Otto Group, El Corte Inglés, ESPRIT and other FTA members and BSCI participants, has launched an initiative to improve working conditions of Syrian nationals in Turkish supply chains. Companies sourcing from Turkey, UN agencies, NGOs, academic bodies, associations came together to discuss joint solutions and agreed on a roadmap for collective action.
According to current estimates, there are between 250,000 and 400,000 Syrians working in the garment industry in Turkey. However, only around 13,000 work permits have been issued to Syrians in all industries in 2016. “There is still a large informal sector where workers might suffer precarious working conditions and this is a matter of outmost concern for businesses committed to the respect of workers’ rights in their supply chains,” said Christian Ewert, Director General, FTA.
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It may be noted that for local businesses in Turkey, the cost of legally hiring a Syrian worker is well beyond the actual work permit itself, which is about Euro 150. Besides, the employer is required to translate all documents and signs in the factory into a language the worker can read and to provide training in the worker’s language. This effectively means that hiring even a few foreign workers incurs significant overhead costs.