Edit as of 22 February: One 6.4 magnitude and a second 5.8 magnitude earthquake have hit Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, creating further terror for those left in the region that was devastated by twin earthquakes a mere two weeks ago. According to Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, at least three people were killed and 213 wounded by the latest quakes. The north-west of Syria was also affected, where more than 500 are reported injured.
On 6 February, Turkey and Syria were struck by two powerful earthquakes – the first striking in the early hours of Monday while people were asleep, instantly trapped under the rubble, followed by the second at around 1:30 PM local time (10:30 GMT). The epicentre was around 26km east of the Turkish city of Nurdagi at a depth of about 18km on the East Anatolian Fault, which runs from the southwest to the northwest of the south-eastern border of Turkey. The quakes radiated towards the northeast, devastating central Turkey and Syria.
In Turkey and Syria, the latest figures reported that the number of people who have died because of these earthquakes has risen to 17,000 at the time of writing. In Turkey, the latest figures reported that the number of people who have died is at 14,351 people lost their lives, and 63,794 have been injured at the time of writing. Furthermore, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) reported that 6,444 buildings collapsed. The bad weather conditions, such as snow and cold temperatures, are weakening rescue operations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared seven days’ national morning and a three-month state of emergency in 10 of the country’s provinces on Tuesday.
Fair Wear member brands’ active factories
According to Fair Wear’s database (cities: Kahramanmaras; Mersin; Malatya; Sanliurfa-Eyyübiye; Adiyaman; Malatya – Yesilyurt; Sanliurfa; Mersin Akdeniz), there is an estimate of 21 factories supplying Fair Wear members in total located in the area affected by the earthquakes.
The local Fair Wear team have all been accounted for and are thankfully not injured. They have been reaching out to those factories by phone. Since the first earthquake occurred early in the morning, so far, no losses of workers’ lives have been reported from those factories. The second earthquake occurred during the day, and people are said to have been able to exit the premises. We have received varying information from the Fair Wear team – in some areas, factory buildings are damaged, others have become cracked, and some have escaped damage entirely.
Fair Wear’s team in Turkey is in contact with factory managers to assess the impact on suppliers and workers. Some workers and their relatives are said to be trapped under the wreckage of their homes. Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those affected. Fair Wear will continue to engage with our local teams and partners, trade unions and labour rights organisations to understand the impact on workers and supply chains. We will provide support to workers by giving them access to information/ local legislation in the process of returning to work and by operating a local complaints helpline.
To support our member brands in this particularly challenging time, we have outlined and shared some suggested actions. These are:
- Contact the factory management as soon as possible in the earthquake-affected area and ask about the current status of workers and factory buildings. Please take into consideration that it might be difficult to reach the factory management or workers.
- In case you recently onboarded a new supplier or subcontractor in the affected area and did not report it in the Fair Wear database, we urgently ask you to contact this entity and enter the production location in the database.
- Ask the factory management to contact all workers and check on their personal situation.
- Request factory management to NOT resume production until the factory building construction is assessed and the premises are declared safe by an authorised structural expert team.
- Check with the factory management whether any workers were dismissed since the earthquake or whether there are any plans to dismiss any workers. Unfair dismissal could occur if the factory building is damaged or workers fear staying on the factory premises.
- If layoffs do occur once the factory rebuilds, local laws of severance payments must be followed, and member brands should support their suppliers in this process and ensure that every worker receives their severance.
- Ensure or discuss with the factory management how the actual wages (at the minimum the legal minimum wage) for the workers will be issued during these difficult times, following local legislation.
- Discuss the status of your orders with the factory management and do not cancel or replace your planned orders without any appropriate dialogue. Ensure some leniency is applied for product deliveries.
- Manage your expectations on time of the order’s delivery and align them to the new circumstances. Take into consideration that road infrastructure might not be accessible to respond to pre-defined deadlines.
- Do not subcontract to other locations where there has not been a Human Rights Due Diligence process/assessment.
- Feel free to support your suppliers in other ways you consider helpful. Some may provide emergency relief to garment workers, which is the first priority at this time.
Fair Wear will continue to provide updates on in-country circumstances and guidance for its members. In addition, Fair Wear is connecting with different local organisations and stakeholders to gather relevant information on the affected area. A Q&A for workers is being developed to inform applicable legislation for scenarios such as: workers being asked to return to the premises while they feel unsafe, or workers who have to take leave to take care of injured relatives.
- Aljazeera, 9 Feb 2023: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2023/2/9/turkey-syria-quake-updates
- Milliyet, 9 Feb 2023: https://www.milliyet.com.tr/galeri/deprem-son-dakika-depremde-kac-kisi-oldu-deprem-olu-ve-yarali-sayisi-8-subat-6900287
- Guardian, 22 Feb 2023: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/20/turkey-new-6-point-4-magnitude-earthquake-hatay