FTA, in collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its implementing partner the International Middle East Peace Research Center (IMPR Humanitarian), hosted a briefing session on ‘Integration of Syrian Nationals into the Turkish Labour Market’ on 20 February in Istanbul, Turkey.
While more than 2.7 million Syrians have been registered in Turkey, the legal framework for employment continues to restrict their ability to attain a work permit. This has led to precarious employment and migrant (refugee) workers without legal documentation.
During the meeting, FTA Turkey Representative, Muge Tuna introduced the association’s work in the country, where over 300 FTA members source from some 1,750 local producers. On a support level, IMPR provided practical guidance on the process, requirements and backing available for Syrian nationals’ pursuit of work permits, while El Corte Inglés shared its experience collaborating with this organisation. Finally, UNHCR outlined its programmes to support the attainment of work permits and to provide vocational training.
The more than 100 producers, companies and auditors in attendance gained knowledge, tools and experiences to support Syrian labour rights in Turkey. Following a Question and Answers’ session, the five main takeaways are as follows:
- Factory employment quota: The employment quota for Syrian nationals is limited to 10%. However, this can be flexible if the factory is not able to find and employ Turkish workers for the last four weeks. In such case, the Employment Agency (ISKUR) can issue a document to confirm it. This same file can be submitted the factories to be allowed to hire additional Syrian nationals. The employment process for Syrian and Turkish workers should follow the same steps and there should be no discrimination.
- Support available for factories employing Syrian nationals: IMPR supports factories through training sessions on working conditions and they also provide language courses. A translator is available to support Syrians and these services are free of charge for factories.
- Employment of Syrian nationals during the application process: Despite the urgent need for employment by Syrian nationals, it is illegal for a factory to employ them during the application process, which lasts 30 days.
- Registration of Syrian workers without work permit with the social security: Without work permits it is not possible to provide social security for workers. BSCI audits follow the legal requirements. The regulation states that workers should have their work permit and then register for social security.
- Process of opening a bank account for Syrian nationals: According to IMPR, depending on the bank it is possible to open an account. However, some companies prefer to use post office cheque (PPT), which is a legal process.
This meeting in Turkey was followed up by an FTA event in Hamburg intended to set the grounds for a stakeholder action plan to address supply chain challenges in Turkey.