Turkey Country Study 2016

Turkey Country Study 2016

The garment industry is Turkey’s second largest industry, and is responsible for a large proportion of Turkey’s total exports. The European Union is the largest purchaser of Turkish garment. Small and medium-sized factories with a wide sub-contractor chain dominate the industry,
with the working conditions deteriorating down the supply chain. Therefore, although the industry is familiar with international workplace standards and the audits of international buyers, improvements are still needed in many aspects of labour conditions.

The issue of unregistered employment is a growing concern throughout the garment industry. It is estimated that almost 70% of the total workforce in the sector is unregistered. This results in workers who are unable to assert their rights to social security, job security, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining.

In addition to unregistered employment, the current regulations in Turkey make unionisation a challenge. Although Turkey has ratified the relevant ILO Conventions, the country has been criticised by ILO and the European Union for not complying with international standards on
freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. A new Act on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreements was adopted and took effect in 2012, but the law continues to be problematic when it comes to compliance with ILO standards.

The wage level in the garment industry is insufficient to provide workers with a living wage. Although Turkey has the highest minimum wage among FWF priority countries, the legal minimum wage, which can be considered the industry’s average wage, is approximately 28%
of the living wage estimates of local stakeholders.

FWF will continue to provide updated information on Turkey and will update this country study on a periodic basis in the future.

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