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Garment brands, factories, unions, the Turkish government, international organisations and other stakeholders gathered in Istanbul on Monday to discuss challenges and possible solutions for integrating Syrian refugee workers. The roundtable was organised by Fair Wear Foundation.
“The turnout was quite high”, said FWF’s Andriëtte Nommensen, who organised the meeting. “The participants covered the whole spectrum that is needed to address the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkish garment factories.”
Tackling child labour
In his opening speech, Dutch ambassador Cornelis van Rij praised Turkey for taking up so many refugees, and FWF for actively trying to tackle child labour in the country. He said he hoped that the organisations that were present would be able to work together on possible solutions.
The meeting resulted in an outline of next steps that the Dutch and Turkish governments, brands and factories, and civil society organisations can take. Possible solutions mentioned include improved labour inspections and an easier way to get work permits for Syrian refugees.
The participants also emphasised the role of European brands. They can take responsibility by getting better insight into their supply chains, including subcontractors, put less pressure on the price and play an active role in remediation when children are found.
Fair Wear Foundation requires its members to ensure that all suppliers have a policy in place for registering Syrian refugee workers; see the FWF guidance for members sourcing in Turkey.
Read more about the difficulties of eradicating child labour in garment supply chains and possible solutions in this FWF article.
If you want to learn more about the Turkish garment industry, read FWF’s latest Turkey country study.