Responses by garment brands to our questionnaire on the treatment of Syrian refugees in Turkish supplier factories

Briefing Note

In the past several months, there have been reports of abuse and exploitation of Syrian refugees working in Turkish garment factories.  Allegations include discrimination, pitiful wages, child labour and sexual abuse.

In December 2015, we approached 28 major garment brands with specific questions on how they are dealing with this issue. The questionnaire was developed in consultation with trade unions, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), and local advocates. 

We received responses to the questionnaire from adidas, C&A, Esprit (responded subsequent to the publication of the briefing), Gap (responded subsequent to the publication of the briefing) H&M, Inditex, NEXT, Nike, Otto Group (responded subsequent to the publication of the briefing), Primark, Puma, Tchibo (responded subsequent to the publiciation of the briefing) White Stuff, and KiK.

Arcadia Group, ASOS, BHS, Burberry, Debenhams, HUGO BOSS, Marks & Spencer, New LookSuperdry, s.Oliver (responded subsequent to the publication of the briefing),LC Waikiki (responded subsequent to the publication of the briefing) and VF Corp (responded subsequent to the briefing) declined to respond to the questionnaire, but sent us brief statements setting out their approach to supply chain management and this issue.

Monsoon declined to respond saying they they have only a small number of suppliers in Turkey and therefore felt the information they could provide would not be meaningful.

River Island did not respond. 

Below you can access the responses and non-responses from the companies we approached.

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Article
2 April 2016

How garment brands are working to stop factories in Turkey from exploiting Syrian refugees

Author: Marc Bain, Quartz

"Major fashion brands are trying to stop their factories in Turkey from exploiting Syrian refugees", 1 Apr 2016

As Syrian refugees continue to pour into Turkey, desperate for any source of income, many are taking jobs in Turkey’s garment industry.

In February, the Business & Human Rights Resource Center reported that an estimated 250,000 to 400,000 Syrian refugees were working in Turkey illegally, including at apparel factories that supply well-known brands. While providing income to these migrants is undoubtedly helpful, those that get jobs without a work permit are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

To make sure refugees aren’t being exploited, Primark, the Irish chain known for its astoundingly cheap clothes, has said it doubled its factory inspections in Turkey...

[also refers to Inditex, H&M, Next, C&A]

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Article
30 March 2016

Primark announces increased supply chain checks in Turkey following concerns over exploitation of Syrian workers

Author: RTÉ News

Fashion chain Primark has said it has ramped up checks on the factories it uses in Turkey to ensure Syrian refugees are not exploited as part of a growing company policy to ensure workers are fairly treated. Paul Lister, head of the Irish company's ethical trading team, said the retailer is on a mission to ensure its supply chain is ethical and workers are not exploited - and that consumers know about its efforts...He said the retailer has this year doubled checks on its 100 or so supplier factories in Turkey amid growing concerns about Syrian refugees who, without a right to work, were vulnerable to abuse...Turkey has come under scrutiny for illegally employing Syrians including in a report earlier this year by corporate ethics watchdog, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. Retailers including H&M, Next, C&A and Primark reported identifying Syrian refugees in their Turkish supply base and detailed their efforts to protect refugee workers as part of the report that questioned 28 retailers. Mr Lister said...the company had to be more open about its supply chain, particularly after the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster 

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Company response
24 February 2016

Response by Gap

Author: Gap

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Company non-response
17 February 2016

River Island did not respond

Company response
12 February 2016

Response by s.Oliver

Author: s.Oliver

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Company response
10 February 2016

Response by VF Corp

Author: VF Corp

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Company response
8 February 2016

Response by LC Waikiki

Author: LC Waikiki

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Company response
5 February 2016

Response by Tchibo

Author: Tchibo

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Item
5 February 2016

Tchibo communication to suppliers re Syrian refugees

Author: Tchibo

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Company response
4 February 2016

Response by Esprit

Author: Esprit

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