Monday, April 15, 2024

Turkish Textile and Garment Workers suffer from earthquake and capitalism


 ‘A textile factory in the western Turkish city of İzmir. Turkey is one of the world’s top garment and textile producers, with factories in its south-east amongst those supplying to major European and US brands. But workers in that region were largely left to fend for themselves after devastating February 2023 earthquakes and experienced the widespread violation of their rights, according to a new Clean Clothes Campaign report.’

'Turkey is one of the world’s top countries for garment and textile production, with US$16.2 billion in exports in 2021, according to a Turkish Ministry of Trade report cited in the Clean Clothes Campaign report, mostly to countries in the European Union and the United States. Suppliers in the earthquake-hit provinces played a significant role in the sector, producing goods for prominent global buyers including Benetton, H&M, Primark and Zara as well as large domestic brands such as LC Waikiki.

The provinces affected by the earthquake accounted for 15 per cent of Turkey’s garment and textile industry, with an estimated 350,000 workers at approximately 2,900 companies prior to the disaster.

In the year since the earthquake, employment in the ready-made clothing sector dropped by 40 per cent and production by 50 per cent, according to a press statement sent to Equal Times by the Turkish Clothing Manufacturers Association (TGSD) issued for the anniversary of the disaster. TGSD President Ramazan Kaya said in the statement that recovery has been hampered by a “loss of qualified employment” in the region and difficulties accessing finance and loans. Shortly after the disaster, the Turkish government instituted a temporary ban on layoffs across the stricken region.’

...’Turkey has consistently ranked amongst the world’s ten worst countries for workers’ rights in the  International Trade Union Confederation’s Global Rights Index with the repression of strikes and systematic union busting listed amongst the violations.

With both freedom of association and the right to strike restricted in Turkey, 89 per cent of workers in the earthquake region’s textile and garment industry – even those who are unionised – do not have a collective bargaining agreement, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign report. In this climate, the layoff ban may have actually worsened the situation for some workers, as they would not receive severance or other benefits if they are forced out rather than officially laid off.

A year after the earthquakes, we can see that employment in the region has not yet recovered,” says Haluk Deniz Medet, a spokesperson for the Turkish textile workers union DİSK Tekstil. “There is a serious contraction in exports and European brands, our most important customers, are shifting their orders to Asian countries.”

This kind of opportunism is all too common in the global garment and textile industry, according to Mayisha Begum, a researcher with the London-based Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). “What we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic and other crises is that brands can change their purchasing practices very quickly when it benefits them,” says Begum.

Only 4 per cent of textile and garment suppliers in south-eastern Turkey were able to resume production as usual after the earthquakes, according to a separate survey of regional suppliers that Göçer and a colleague carried out in June 2023. Yet only a handful said the brands they supply offered any support in the aftermath of the disaster; 69 per cent of respondents said they received no contact at all from buyers or brands.’


Anonymous said...

Bull crap

Anonymous said...

No it will not

cynical but optimistic said...

SOYMB welcomes comments on its posts from readers whether they agree or disagree. It doesn't help dialogue with those who disagree on some point to simply comment with an expletive, albeit it a relatively mild one. Is that an Americanism?
'No it will not'. No it will not what? Please elucidate.