March 9, 2022

How we secure labour rights for Syrians in Turkey

So far, over 400 Syrian workers have secured decent, sustainable employment opportunities in manufacturing, food processing, textile and logistics sectors. The programme, financed by the Qatar Fund for Development, ensures workers receive their labour rights; including the work permit, insurance and social security. 

Turkey has been the primary destination for Syrian refugees, with the first camps set up 10 years ago. Today, the country hosts the world’s largest refugee population, with 4 million people, of whom 3.6 million are Syrian. 

Since 2016, refugees in Turkey can obtain a work permit through their employer. Nevertheless, According to the International Labor Organization, out of 2.16 million Syrians of working age in Turkey, only 1 million participate in the labour market, most of them informally in low-skilled and low-paid jobs.

“Since I arrived in Turkey, I’ve changed jobs three times. I always felt unsafe working without a permit, which forced me to look for a place that can issue a work permit for me,” says Mohammad, a manufacturing worker at a car parts factory. 

Working informally can lead to exploitation by some employers. Some employers refuse to hire Syrians or do not pay fair wages. Similarly, the language barrier can often leave many Syrian workers with limited access to information and services related to their labour rights. 

“Syrian refugees’ difficulties in the labour market is not related to skills,” says Mohammad Othman, a Syrian steel factory worker. “Syrians usually have unique skills. The main challenge for all of us is the language. It prevents us from building relationships with our colleagues and most of the time is the main reason not to receive our full labour rights.”

Alongside our partners in Turkey, Qatar Charity and United Work, we have secured 400 job placements for Syrian refugees. The programme, financed by the Qatar Fund for Development, also closely cooperates with the Turkish government, employers and employees to improve access to jobs. 

Economic opportunities are not only vital for restoring financial independence and dignity to Syrians, but with Turkey’s spiralling economic downturn, more jobs are essential for the country’s economic recovery. By focusing on major industries in the southeast of the country where the majority of Syrians are living, we support mutually beneficial economic growth. 

“The job opportunity I received through SPARK’s programme helped me to be independent and engage with the host community. I feel safe when I go to work, I have a work permit and I am registered at the social security,” says Rana, a textile worker. 

Rana Al-Ayed, Syrian refugee got a job opportunity in a textile factory through Match-Up component © 2022, SPARK
Mohammad using the machine at car parts under the supervision of expert © 2022, SPARK
Isra Albetir, a trainee at a textile workshop during her working hours © 2022, SPARK
One of SPARK’s participants through the programme © 2022, SPARK

SPARK places decent work, the eighth global UN Sustainable Development Goal (Decent Work and Economic Growth),  at the heart of our interventions and follows Turkish labour standards. The programme ensures that each job seeker in Turkey receives their full labour rights, including insurance, work permit, salaries and social security. By the end of 2022, the programme plans to achieve 650 jobs, including 400 full-time job placements and 250 internship placements.