At least 108 refugee workers killed in occupational murders in 2018 in Turkey

According to the report prepared by the Occupational Health and Safety Council, at least 108 migrant/refugee workers have lost their lives in Turkey this year in occupational murders. Yet, this number reflects only a small portion of the reality considering that informal employment rate is about 99 percent
Wednesday, 19 December 2018 13:39

The Occupational Health and Safety Council (ISIG) has released a report on the migrant/refugee workers working in Turkey on the International Migrants Day of December 18. The report, which emphasizes the massive increase in the death rates of migrant/refugee workers as part of the working class in Turkey, states that the number of migrant/refugee workers killed in occupational homicides is at least 108 by December 2018. 

Indicating that 14 percent of this death rate information was obtained from physicians working in Istanbul and that none of the deaths were reflected in the press and social media, the report suggests the number of the occupational murders in Turkey is much higher than this.

According to the report, 22 migrant/refugee workers have been killed in occupational murders in 2013 in Turkey, while this number is 108 in 2018 with a massive increase. In total, 434 migrant/refugee workers have lost their lives due to work-related deaths between 2013 and 2018 under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.  

It is underlined in the report that the deaths of migrant/refugee workers have proportionally increased in the total number of occupational murders within the given years.

Indicating that the concept of “migrant/refugee worker” is used as a combined phenomenon in the report, ISIG Council explained the reason behind it: “The traditional phenomenon used by the labor movement is ‘migrant worker’, while the basic determinant of this situation in today’s Turkey is refugees as a result of the wars”. Therefore, the term “migrant/refugee worker” is used in the study.


The report shows that the migrant/refugee workers killed in occupational homicides in 2018 mostly came from the countries where the wars still continue, particularly Syria and Afghanistan.

‘‘When we take Iraq into the consideration, we see that 3/4 of the migrant/refugee workers killed in occupational murders came from the countries still suffering from the ongoing wars’’, it is stated in the report.

In addition to these, ISIG Council’s report remarks that while over 60 percent of all occupational homicides in previous years were Syrians, this rate decreased to 44 percent in 2018 because the number of workers coming from Afghanistan and the work-related deaths of Afghani migrant/refugee workers in Turkey have massively increased. In early 2018, approximately 1 million Afghanis had entered Turkey from the eastern borders.


Migrant/refugee workers are now considered to be more important than ever as laborers employed under precarious working conditions with lower wages imposed by the capitalist class in the crisis.

According to the report, migrant/refugee workers in Turkey are exposed to 16-hour working shifts, forced labor, verbal/physical violence, unhealthy workplace environment and insufficient safety measures, salaries under the minimum wage as well as non-registered employment without social security, and arbitrary dismissals in case of unionization or any other activities related to seeking rights.

Furthermore, capitalist patrons see the migrant/refugee workers a means to hold the wage increases down and to reduce wages against other workers by inciting ethnic and sectarian enmity among the workers through nationalist provocations, the report prepared by ISIG Council underlines.


The report also draws attention to the exploitation of Syrian migrant/refugee women and children in the labor market.

While 46 percent of Turkish male workers and 63 percent of Turkish female workers are working informally and without social security, 99 percent of Syrian male workers and all Syrian female workers state that they are forced to work without social security under precarious working conditions, according to the report.

The report also shows that there are even 6-year-old Syrian children who are forced to work in Turkey.