ISTANBUL – Textile and apparel unions in Turkey, Europe’s largest textile exporter, have backed calls for a living wage in their sector. Industry unions pledged support for the implementation of global initiative, ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation), led by the Industriall Global Union as well as brands and retailers.
At present the legal minimum wage in Turkey is gross 2.029,50 TRY (around US$500) per month. Most textile and garment workers earn around this minimum wage which, claim unions as well as many textile sector NGOs, is far below a living wage.
A new commitment has now been announced at a meeting in Istanbul where corporate signatories of ACT met with Industriall and its Turkish affiliates – Teksif, Öz İplik İş, Disk/Tekstil and Deriteks – to discuss the implementation of ACT in the Turkish garment industry.
The ACT initiative, which is conducting similar drives in the main textile and garment production hubs of Bangladesh and Vietnam, brings together global brands and retailers, trade unions, manufacturers and governments to work to achieve living wages.
Textile, garment and leathers sectors are among the main drivers of the economy in Turkey as one of the three largest export industries. Although official figures show around a million workers employed in the sector, various studies report at least double that, due to the unregistered economy.
The participants recognised that the role of purchasing practices is essential to achieving living wages.
“We express our heartfelt congratulations to our Turkish textile, garment and leather sector affiliates over their genuine and sincere work towards cooperation among themselves,” said Industriall assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft.
“We have already made exemplary successful work in Turkey in using global framework agreements in union organizing and developing social dialogue at a number of suppliers. Now it is time to introduce the ACT initiative for better wages in the sector. I am certain that we will manage it”.