The Occupational Health and Safety Council (ISIG) has published a report for the World Day Against Child Labor of June 12. The report shows the sectors in which child labor is commonly employed, a comparison of the previous year, and the working conditions of child workers.
Stating that at least 26 child workers have lost their lives in the first five months of 2019, ISIG Council calls for the prohibition of child labor and the trial of all those responsible for the deaths of child workers.
Labor force participation rate of children constituting 28% of Turkey’s population rose to 21% in 2018. Although Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)’s data includes only statistics regarding children in 15-17 age group, the number of child workers increased by 7,000 in Turkey in 2018, the year declared as the ‘Year of Fighting Against Child Labor’ by the Turkish government. 2018 was also the year that child labor deaths reached a record high in the country.
CHILDREN ARE FORCED TO WORK ILLICITLY
According to TurkStat’s Child Labor Force Survey 2012 data, 44.7% of children between 6-17 years old who are economically active in Turkey work in the agricultural sector, 24.3% of them work in the industrial sector, and 31% in the service sector.
In addition, 4 out of 5 children are forced to work illicitly, 2016 TurkStat data indicates.
In Turkey, the average weekly working hours of child workers between 6-17 years old is 40 hours, while this working time for child workers between 15-17 years old is 45.8 hours. The average working hours for children who do not receive an education is 54.3 hours, which is even above the national average.
HALF OF 5 MILLION REFUGEES ARE CHILDREN, WORKING IN LIFE-THREATENING CONDITIONS WITH LOW WAGES
Half of the refugee/immigrant population in Turkey is children. Especially Syrian refugee children are working at the labor market under poor conditions and at low wages, being exposed to discrimination.
Especially in small enterprises, refugee children, who are forced to work at low wages for long hours and who will not bargain for their salaries without seeking basic labor rights, work for peanuts. Moreover, refugee child workers also work in hazardous occupations and they get paid at lower wages.
NO SOCIAL SECURITY FOR CHILD WORKERS
Apprenticeship and internship legitimized under ‘legal cover’ in Turkey are other types of common employment exploiting child labor.
Apprentices and interns are often forced to do the same work as adults, without any social security protection and no occupational health and safety measures.
Capitalists prefer to hire apprentices under the name of ‘vocational training’ instead of employing full-time workers; thus, they do not have to pay insurance premium, severance payment, and other social expenses as a necessity of labor law.
26 CHILD WORKERS DIED IN OCCUPATIONAL MURDERS IN FIRST 5 MONTHS OF 2019 IN TURKEY
The data provided by ISIG Council indicates that 59 children in 2013, 54 children in 2014, 63 children in 2015, 56 children in 2016, 60 children in 2017, 67 children in 2018, and at least 26 children in the first five of 2019 have lost their lives due to occupational murders.
CHILD WORKERS IN TURKEY IN THE ISIG REPORTS
Turkey’s southeastern provinces of Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, Turkey’s most populated province of Istanbul, southern provinces of Antalya and Adana are the provinces with the highest number of work-related child deaths. In these provinces, the population of children as agricultural labor and refugees is quite high.
Of the 26 child workers who lost their lives in the first five months of 2019, 4 were refugee children. The fact that the mortality rate of refugee children is much higher than the mortality rate of all migrant workers shows that both workload and working conditions of refugee child labor are much heavier and more dangerous.
Of the 26 child workers who lost their lives, 4 were female children. Female children are forced to work in the agricultural sector, particularly in unpaid family labor.
Deaths are seen even in the age-group level of 8-10 in the agricultural sector in which unpaid family labor and working at early ages are common. In this respect, half of the children who lost their lives in occupational murders are children working as agricultural laborers. 43% of children who lost their lives were working in the industrial sector, while 7% of them were in the services sector.
9 of the children who lost their lives in occupational murders in the first five months of 2019 are 14 years old and below. According to the laws, children at the age of 14 and below shall not be employed under any circumstances. Most of the children over 15 years old, who can be "legally" employed, are illicitly forced to work in dangerous conditions such as chemical and metal-related works.