Reports shed light on child workplace accidents
Many children in Turkey continue to become victims of unregistered employment and workplace accidents, multiple reports show.
According to a report prepared by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice Chair Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, 2,897 children younger than 14 had work accidents over the 2003-2017 period, and three of these children lost their lives.
İlgezdi said also touched upon work accidents among teenagers in her report, saying that 34,548 young people, ages 15-17, had work accidents during the same period.
Another report released by a non-governmental organization focused on the number of children killed in work accidents, saying that at least 26 child workers were killed in the workplace in the first five months of 2019.
The death toll of child workers was 59 in 2013, 54 in 2014, 63 in 2015, 56 in 2016, 60 in 2017 and 67 in 2018, according to the report by the Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSİGM) published on June 11.
The reports by the CHP vice chair and the İSİGM came ahead of the World Day Against Child Labor, which is observed in June every year to raise awareness about the plight of child workers worldwide.
İlgezdi based her figures on data from the Social Security Institution (SGK), whereas İSİGM compiled its data from reports by print and online media, labor unions and organizations.
According to SGK data, 116 children and teenage minors lost their lives in work accidents between 2003 and 2017. In 2018, at least 44 child and teen workers died at workplaces.
“This number was only one in 2003. The increase in the number of killed child/youth workers from 2003 to 2018 was registered as 4,300 percent,” İlgezid said.
İSİGM said that 41.4 percent of child workers in Turkey are working to “contribute to the household income” and 28.7 percent to “help the economic activities of the household.” It also said that about half of child workers in the country cannot attend school.
The provinces in which most of the deaths occurred were respectively in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, Istanbul, the southeastern province of Gaziantep and the southern provinces of Antalya and Adana, as the child population, agricultural labor and the refugee population stand at high levels in these provinces, according to the İSİGM report.
Half of the children killed in work accidents in 2019 were working as agriculture laborers, whereas 43 percent were working in industry and 7 percent in the service sector, said the İSİGM report.
Most deaths of child laborers were caused by accidental poisoning, drowning, traffic accidents, falling down or getting crushed, according to the İSİGM report.
“All of the child workers who died due to drowning are agricultural laborers who got into irrigation canals for clean water or to freshen [up],” said the NGO report.
Of the 26 killed children, nine were age of 14 or less, according to İSİGM. In Turkey, the minimum age for full-time employment is 15.
Of the deceased 26 child workers, four were refugees, according to İSİGM.
“With the coming of Syrian refugees coming to Turkey, it is possible to say that there has been an increase in the number of child workers and also their working conditions have in every way worsened. Refugee children are working in both worse and more dangerous conditions and also are exposed to discrimination and attack,” said the report.