New report assesses brands’ approach to refugee workers in Turkish garment industry

07 November, 2017

A new report co-authored by Newton International Fellow Emre Eren Korkmaz assesses how far major European fashion brands are addressing exploitation and abuse of Syrian refugee workers in the Turkish garment industry.

The authors of the report, ‘What’s changed for Syrian refugees in Turkish garment supply chains?’ approached 37 European brands with a set of questions on their actions to protect Syrian refugees in their supply chains, and in July and August 2017 visited Turkey to assess recent developments and speak to people on the ground.

The report follows up on previous analysis carried out in February and October 2016.

The report found that more leading fashion brands were making efforts to prevent exploitation of Syrian refugees than last year, but that the industry as a whole still needs to go further.

The authors found that New Look, Next, ASOS, Inditex (Zara), German fashion brand Otto Group and SuperGroup (SuperDry) were the top ranking brands in this year’s survey. In 2016, only New Look and Next were judged to be taking sufficient action against exploitation.

At the other end of the scale, Aldi, Arcadia Group (Topshop, Dorothy Perkins), Asda and Turkish brand LC Waikiki provided minimal information with little evidence of action to stop exploitation of refugees, the report said. German retailer KiK, Mexx, New Yorker, River Island, German fashion brand s. Oliver and VF Corp (The North Face, Timberland) failed to respond to the survey.

According to the report, an estimated 650,000 Syrian refugees have fled their home country to escape bloodshed and have found a lifeline working in Turkey, with many working in the garment industry. Without these jobs, many families would struggle to support themselves. However, the garment industry in Turkey is complex and exploitative conditions are too common, the report says. Since 2015, reports and investigations have exposed poor wages, discrimination, and child labour by Syrian refugees working in the industry.

The report was carried out by Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC).

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