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Put On Your Mask, Keep on Work!

Research on the Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic on the Textile Industry Workforce, Clean Clothes Campaign conducted desk research to identify the new conditions faced by workers in the textile industry since the beginning of the COVID-19 process.

Field research was carried out for a comprehensive assessment of the solution to the identified problems.  The report, written by Prof. Dr. Saniye Dedeoğlu and Faculty Member Dr. Aysun Danışman, working at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, is a study to determine the conditions of workers working in the textile industry, the risks to worker health and safety, the structure of the division of labor, and the changes in wages during the COVID-19 process in Turkey. The report includes unpaid leave, short-time working allowance, compulsory use of annual leaves, which came to the fore with COVID-19; It includes questions about whether social distance, mask, and hygiene rules are followed.

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The highlights of the report prepared by interviewing 60 textile workers are as follows:
There are certain conditions to be able to benefit from unpaid leave, short-time working allowance, unemployment benefits, which are issued by the government and put into practice to eliminate the grievances of workers. Although not every worker can benefit from these rights, the first condition is to be an insured employee. In the textile sector, unregistered employment is high. 66.7% of the workers we interviewed are employed informally.

Parallel to the above situation, the rate of workers who stated that they did not receive any help from the state or another institution is 88.5% with 23 people. 34 people did not answer this question, only 3 people said that they received help.
To the question about how to get to work during the COVID-19 process, a group of workers, corresponding to 65.3%, answered, “On foot.” 

With this aspect, one of the most striking findings of the report is that informal workers have no rights and do not claim any rights. This situation becomes more apparent when unregistered workers prefer working areas where they can walk to and from work on days when there is a curfew.

When asked whether physical distance, mask, and hygiene rules are followed in the workplace, 24 people (50%) replied, "None of these rules are valid." while he replied; 18 people (37.4%) stated that all the rules were followed.

 26 people received a salary below the minimum wage with a rate of 45.6%; 39 people, with a rate of 73.6%, stated that they received their salary by hand. These data also prove the high rate of unregistered employment.

All of the unregistered workers have difficulties in making a living; workers who received a short-time working allowance from the state stated that the amount paid was not even enough to make payments such as rent and invoices.

Another finding of the report is that the measures taken regarding the labor market do not cover the high unregistered employment in the sector and that they are also insufficient for the insured workers. The prohibition of dismissals with these measures caused the workers to be taken on unpaid leave and deepened their financial difficulties.

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