The Rights Violations Faced by Refugee Workers in the Leather, Textiles and Footwear Sector

The Leather Textiles Shoemaking Workers’ Association published their report, “The Rights Violations Faced by Refugee Workers in the Leather, Textiles and Footwear Sector” with the support of Etkiniz.

Below you can read the executive summary of the report, originally published in Turkish:

This report was prepared by Deri, Tekstil ve Kundura İşçileri Derneği [Association of Leather, Textiles and Footwear Workers]. The aim of the study is to produce a profile of refugee/migrant workers in the leather, textiles and footwear sector, determine their working conditions, identify the rights violations and discriminatory practices they encounter and ensure the visibility of their priority demands.

The target group of the study is the refugee/migrant workers employed at the Izmir Bornova Işıkkent Footwear Zone, MTK Textile Producers’ Area, textiles and leather workshops in Basmane and textile workshops in Karabağlar.

The method selected for the study is information gathering via face-to-face interviews, analysis and reporting. To this end, more than 100 refugee/migrant workers in the leather, textiles and footwear sector in the areas listed above were interviewed. The interviews were carried out using a survey form prepared for the purpose.

The human rights standards taken as the basis of the study are as follows: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees, International Labour Organisation Conventions, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, Turkey’s Law on Settlement, Law on Passports, Law on Citizenship, Law on Military Service, Law on the Residence and Travel of Foreigners in Turkey, Law 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection and Regulation on the Work Permits of Foreigners Under Temporary Protection.

The findings and data obtained from the study are as follows: Although the study tried to control for sex distribution, only a low number of female workers could be interviewed (five female workers in leather and 14 in textiles). The numbers show that the rate of female refugee/migrant participation in the footwear sector is low.

38 of the interviewed refugee workers stated they were single, 50 they were married and 12 they were divorced.

8 of the interviewed refugee/migrant workers said they were illiterate, 8 that they were literate, 65 that they had finished primary school and 19 that they had finished secondary school.

Of the interviewed workers, 10 had been in Turkey for three years, 14 for four, 27 for five, 34 for six and 15 for seven years.
Interviewed workers stated paying rent of between TRY 500 and TRY 750 for their homes.

10 of the workers stated earning TRY 400 a week, 35 TRY 500, 5 TRY 550, 40 TRY 600 and 10 TRY 700. Only 40 per cent of the workers earned a wage equal to the minimum wage, while only 10 per cent earned above the minimum wage.

The workers stated that they were paid between TRY 200 and TRY 250 less than workers from Turkey.

Of the 100 workers interviewed, all of them said that they were not registered for social security and that the number of days their social insurance premiums had been paid was zero. None of the workers had encountered a state audit at their place of work.

75 per cent of the workers stated that they needed another individual from their household to work.

35 workers stated that they worked for between 9 and 10 hours a day on average, 65 stated that they worked for between 11 and 12 hours a day on average and that they were not paid overtime for over 8 hours of work. No workers were encountered who worked for 8 hours a day or less . 29 workers stated they worked for 12 months a year, 22 for 11 months, 14 for 9 months, 8 for 8 months and 7 for 6 months.

According to the report, 60 per cent of workplaces employ mainly refugee workers while 20 per cent employ mainly workers from Turkey. All of the workers stated that they were not enrolled with social security because they were refugees. 73 workers stated that they did not receive full pay because they were refugees, 87 that they earned less than workers from Turkey, 77 that they were made to work longer than workers from Turkey, 56 that their employment was unjustly terminated, 75 that they had been subjected to hate speech, 52 that they were marginalised by their co-workers and 12 that they were subjected to verbal and physical violence because they were refugees. 52 of the workers stated that they had faced hate speech from their boss or headworkers, 35 from their co-workers at the workplace and 55 from other workers.

While 83 of the workers voiced a wage raise as their primary demand, 35 demanded social insurance coverage, 47 the prevention of hate speech, 76 improvements to working conditions and 34 the implementation of worker health and workplace safety measures.
The report also contains proposed solutions to the identified rights violations. These consist of Turkey implementing the international conventions on refugees, migrant workers and working life to which Turkey is a party. It is also suggested that Turkey’s domestic regulation on the subject be revised in the light of human rights principles and international conventions.

Please click below to view the original version of the report (Turkish):

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