Skip to main content

Labor Costs in Turkey Could Soon Rise as Unions Call for Better Living Wages

The wage rate in Turkey could be set to rise as garment, textile and leather industry unions are rallying for better pay for the sectors’ workers.

Several of the country’s garment, textile and leather unions pledged this week to support the ACT (Action, Collaboration and Transformation) global initiative, led by IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers worldwide. The initiative also includes brands and retailers all working collectively to reach fair living wages for each of the sectors.

At a meeting in Istanbul, corporate ACT signatories met with IndustriALL and its Turkish affiliates to discuss implementing ACT in the nation’s garment industry.

In Turkey, workers’ wages are set below a living wage, according to IndustriALL, which—as is the case in other key sourcing countries—keeps workers from being able to provide enough for themselves and their families. ACT’s goal is to drive better living wages for workers through industry-wide collective bargaining linked to more ethical and sustainable purchasing practices.

Turkey’s legal monthly minimum wage for 2018 is 1,603.12 Turkish lira ($390). The country’s Minimum Wage Fixing Board, which consists of government representatives, employers and trade unions, determines the legal minimum wage on a yearly basis. Participants at the meeting discussed how minimum wage mechanisms have been insufficient in promoting wage increases, and how ACT could help create industry-wide collective bargaining agreements to drive pay to a livable rate.

The problem, the group surmised, also has to do with the industry’s purchasing practices, which, though they have evolved, still largely rely on chasing the cheapest cost. IndustriALL’s Turkish affiliates shared suggestions on where retailers’ purchasing practices had the greatest negative effects on wages, including forecasting, price negotiations and predictability.

“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,” Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, said. “Now it is time to introduce the ACT initiative for better wages in the sector. I am certain that we will manage it.”