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ISTANBUL – The ILO and Turkey are working together to create good quality jobs in the Turkish apparel industry for Syrian refugees. Four million Syrian refugees have fled from the war-torn country in recent years, many of them working informally in Turkey’s huge textile industry. However, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB) have now signed a cooperation protocol to help formalise the work of Syrians who, it is increasingly accepted, make a valuable contribution to Turkey’s burgeoning garment sector. Turkey is Europe’s largest textile exporter.

The protocol was signed by Numan Özcan, director of the ILO Office for Turkey, and Mustafa Gültepe, chairman of IHKIB and will be undertaken in Istanbul and Bursa.

Özcan said: “We endeavour, in the framework of ILO Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, to contribute to the efforts in providing access for refugees to means of subsistence, and to formal and decent work in the labour market. 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.”

Özcan said the protocol would particularly contribute to the creation of decent work for Syrians and host communities in the apparel industry as a leading industry of current and potential employment, and support an enabling environment for economic growth.

The ILO Office for Turkey has undertaken activities since 2015 in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Özcan added: “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. 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.”

IHKB chairman Gültepe said: “We could not remain indifferent to the problems of four million Syrians. We guide the sector in corporate social responsibility projects as we do in all other areas. As known, we have four million 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 together for the programme of ILO which aims to increase formal employment for Syrians in our country. The joint programme by IHKIB and ILO 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 such 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.”


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