Αound 100,000 children are in the registered labor force in Turkey, Labor and Social Security Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has stated in response to a parliamentary question filed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Atila Sertel.
“As of October 2016, there were 94,124 people under 18 were working, apart from those working as an apprentice, apprentice candidate, students in vocational training, and those currently under the responsibility of someone who is obliged to look after them,” Müezzinoğlu said on Feb. 20.
The declaration came after CHP İzmir deputy Sertel asked the ministry about the situation of child labor in Turkey.
“Children who work or who are forced to work in sectors from agriculture to industry, from construction to textile, are victims of loopholes in the law or of bad implementation of the laws,” Sertel wrote, asking for details on the official number of children currently working in Turkey, their age groups and sectoral presence.
“The most recent official statement on child labor was given in 2012. According to the [The Turkish Statistical Institute’s Child Labor Survey in 2012], a total of 893,000 child laborers are employed, 44.7 percent in agriculture, 24.2 percent in industry, and 31 percent in the service sector,” Sertel’s question added, saying updated figures are necessary to better address the issue.
Children in seasonal agricultural labor
Noting that half of the children who are in the labor force are in the agriculture sector working as seasonal workers, Sertel asked if the ministry had any planned regulations concerning seasonal working conditions of children.
In its response, the ministry stated that the Social Security Law concerning the social security of seasonal workers applies only to those are above 18 years of age.
‘Child labor is a priority risk’
Sertel also asked about the social security conditions of working children and what kind of monitoring the ministry conducted on these conditions.
The official answer stated that ministry officials had conducted a total of 22,413 inspections as of Dec. 21. 2016 and regular inspections showed that child labor was identified as a priority risk, while administrative fines were applied to establishments that violated the regulation provisions.
Syrian child workers
Despite Sertel’s inquiry, the ministry’s response did not include figures concerning the labor condition of Syrian children who are currently residing in Turkey under refugee status.
According to UNICEF’s 2015 statistics, there are currently 1,923,240 Syrian children living outside of refugee camps in Turkey. Statistics concerning unregistered employment of those children are not currently available.
According to Turkish law, only those who have completed primary education and are above 14 years of age are allowed to work. Workers who are 14 years old are defined as “child workers,” while those between 15 and 18 years of age are defined as “young workers.” Child and young workers are only allowed to be employed in jobs that do not hinder their success at school and it is forbidden to employ young workers who are not 16 years old in jobs identified as heavy and dangerous.