BBC report on child workers draws ire of Turkish businesses
by Daily Sabah with AA
ISTANBULOct 27, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AA
Oct 27, 2016 12:00 am
BBC came under fire after it broadcast a documentary on Syrian child workers allegedly working at textile workshops in Turkey manufacturing goods for international retailers. Turkish textile businesses criticized BBC's Panorama which claims to show refugee children working in factories making clothes for British retailer Marks & Spencer and online store ASOS.
Turkish business world argues that the show was "scripted" to hurt the image of Turkish textile sector and questions its "timing" at a time of rising share of Turkish companies in international markets.
Hikmet Tanrıverdi, president of Istanbul Apparel Exporters' Association (İHKİB), one of the biggest associations in the sector, said at a press conference yesterday that it was "a plot" against textile sector and "a veiled threat" against global brands they supplied goods. He said the workshop where child workers were employed had "nothing to do" with textile exports and accused Panorama investigators of "misrepresenting the Turkish sector."
"We investigated the place shown in the program and found out it did not involve manufacturing goods for any brands shown in the program. They posed as representatives of those retailers and contacted that workshop under the guise of exporting goods for those brands. They scripted the program in a way that would implicate the entire Turkish exporters in such an affair." Tanrıverdi said they were worried that a reputed broadcaster like BBC would involve in efforts to thwart the progress of Turkish apparel sector.
Tanrıverdi noted that international brands imposed tight restrictions on apparel manufacturers in Turkey to prevent use of child labor and showed zero tolerance on the issue as they frequently inspected the exporters. He also reminded heavy sentences for child labor in Turkey and called the public to report any case of child labor to a hotline of state-run Social Security Agency. He said Turkey hosted about 1 million refugee children from Syria and rate of schooling for those children should be increased to prevent any case of child labor.
Tanrıverdi also invited the BBC to visit factories manufacturing goods for global brands "at a time of their choice." "We will accept all allegations if they find any single child worker," he added.
Şeref Fayat, the head of the Turkish Apparel Industrialists Association (TGSD) said at the same press conference that it was unfair to accuse the entire sector "with exports amounting to $18 billion" with the work of an illegal workshop" and stated that they would prepare a similar documentary to showcase the manufacturing process.
Abdurrahman Bilgiç, Turkey's Ambassador to United Kingdom, also criticized the BBC's claims of child labor. In a letter of protest to the program's editors published by Anadolu Agency, Bilgiç said Turkey strictly abided by international norms on the prevention of child labor.
Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Turkey has pursued an open door policy towards Syrians, Bilgiç said, adding that there are around 853,000 school-age children, 310,000 of who are eligible to receive education.
"Against this backdrop of Turkey's stance against child labor and efforts to help Syrian refugees with a particular emphasis on children, your television program displays Turkey as an unfriendly environment for child refugees," he said.
"This regrettable approach risks not only undermining Turkey's unprecedented assistance to refugees but also tarnishes the increasing trade relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom," he added.