A new agreement between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB) aims to create formal and decent work for Syrian refugees in Turkey’s garment industry.
The commitment was made at a ceremony in Istanbul earlier this month, with participants including senior executives from Inditex, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), and the Ethical Trading Initiative.
“We endeavour to contribute to the efforts in providing access for refugees to means of subsistence, and to formal and decent work in the labour market,” said Numan Özcan, director of the ILO office for Turkey.
“In this context, we believe that collaboration with IHKIB is highly important in the apparel industry where Syrians and host communities are, or have the potential of being, employed in large numbers. As a most important sectoral organisation with more than 7,000 members representing the Turkish apparel industry, IHKIB makes significant contributions to the sector and Turkish economy.”
Turkey is the world’s seventh largest apparel exporter, and the third largest supplier to the European Union (EU).
“We guide the sector in corporate social responsibility projects as we do in all other areas,” added IHKIB chairman Mustafa Gültepe. “We have 4m Syrian guests in our country. IHKIB has never been indifferent to the problems of these people. We have endeavoured to integrate Syrian guests into our labour-intensive sector. We have implemented various programmes to make space for them in the world of work.
“Now we are [working] together with the ILO to increase formal employment for Syrians in our country. The joint programme will be implemented in the provinces where Syrian refugees live in large numbers.
“Our focus in this collaboration programme will be on our member companies, which employ and intend to employ Syrians. We will coordinate the operations of these companies such as production, social compliance, and human resources management. We will include Turkish workers as well as Syrian guests in our sectoral labour force to further strengthen the sector.”