Looking Back, Moving Forward: Syrian Workers in Turkey’s Garment Industry

As the Syrian civil war enters its ninth year, more than half of the Syrian population has been forcefully displaced from their homes, with 5.6 million seeking refuge abroad. With its open door policy, Turkey has contributed significantly to humanitarian relief for more than 3.5 million civilians affected by the war in Syria.

The vast majority of Syrians in Turkey reside outside of refugee camps, making their living from waged labour in towns and cities across Turkey, including work in the garment industry. Turkey’s garment industry has become one of the largest sources of income for Syrians, with an estimated 250,000–400,000 Syrian workers.

Temiz Giysi Kampanyası (Clean Clothes Campaign Turkey) have conducted a field research and an according report. The report carries the assumption that any attempt to improve the working conditions of refugees has to build on an in-depth understanding of the challenges and aspirations of refugee workers themselves.

The report draws on 55 interviews with Syrian workers in Turkey’s garment industry and it focuses on significant topics such as; workplace locations and job positions, working conditions (working hours, salaries, discrimination), determinants of workplace conditions (gender, age, legal status, formal education and language skills, industry experience and future prospects).

The report finalizes with a conclusion of solution strategies on individual level, state regulations and global industry level, and finally, a set of coordinated multi-level approach recommendations.