Friday, May 06, 2016

Sweatshop Turkey

Sweatshop Turkey

by Stephen Lendman

Turkey shamelessly exploits its Syrian refugee population. Hundreds of thousands of adults and children work for sub-poverty wages under deplorable conditions.

State-authorized sweatshops exist in many parts of the world, Turkey a notorious example, a hugely repressive police state, profiting from human misery.

London’s Guardian reported on Syrian child refugees in Turkey, many unable to go to school, forced to choose between harsh sweatshop labor or war at home.

They work 12 hours a day, six days a week, earning sub-minimum wage pay and no benefits. Syrian Relief Network (SRN) director Kais al-Dairi explained “irreversible” harm done to vast numbers of young Syrian refugee children.

“Even if everything stopped now and we had peace, we would just be doing damage control. We have lost a generation. We are trying not to lose a second one.”

Children in Turkish refugee camps are forced to work to help their families survive. They earn less than $10 a day. Syrian families in Turkey spend more than they earn, so are forced to borrow to get by and have their children work.

They’re victims of laws benefitting employers at workers’ expense, denied rights afforded Turkish nationals.

Sub-poverty pay prevents adult workers from caring for family members properly. It gets worse.

Many adults can’t find work. Research shows in nearly half of Hatay, Turkey, Syrian refugee families, a child is the only breadwinner, earning far too little for members to survive.

Many employers prefer hiring easily exploitable children at less pay than adults for maximum profits. They’re entitled to education in Turkey but don’t get it.

The Guardian said legal loopholes “give headmasters the right not to admit Syrians if their presence would conceivably affect the learning of Turkish students.”

Child workers are often ill-treated. Sexual and physical abuse are common, SRN’s Kais al-Dairi saying “I have interviewed kids and they say in their innocent way, ‘this guy held my hand. This guy tried to lead me here. This guy tried to touch me here.’ “

One child reported his sweatshop boss “beat(ing) (him) with a screwdriver, metal, whatever is in his hand. Once…he threw a bottle at me.”

UNICEF said Syrian “(c)hildren report being actively encouraged to join the war” at home at much higher pay than from sweatshop labor. According to al-Dairi, child soldiers have no futures, able only to fight and die as warriors.

Despite enormous hardships most people can’t imagine, many Syrians see Europe as their best option - for themselves and their children. Disappointment awaits them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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