In spring 2019, we visited our main partner’s factory in Turkey to meet the workers. We are a member of the amfori BSCI social responsibility system. Through amfori BSCI, we conduct third-party inspections (audits) of factories. However, during an audit, only part of the factory workers are interviewed. This was the first time we had the opportunity for an extensive direct contact with workers.
Work Ahead interview
The workers answered an anonymous well-being survey, carried out using the survey technology of the Finnish Work Ahead startup. The workers’ opinions on their working conditions were mainly positive, but some need for improvement also emerged. On the basis of the findings, we specified the areas of development together with our partner. The progress of the improvements will be followed.
The workers said that they are proud of their work, they feel safe at the workplace and feel that the employer treats them equally regardless of sex, religion or political opinions.
According to the workers’ answers, what needs improvement the most is the adequacy of pay. Our partner pays the workers at least the minimum pay specified in Turkish law, but the adequacy of pay can depend on many things.
The inflation rate in Turkey has been very high in recent years, which has made basic consumer products more expensive, despite the fact that the minimum pay has been increased nearly every year.
In Turkey, families are also often bigger than in Finland. In addition to the children, there may be as many as five adults in a family. When analysing the results in more detail, we noticed that the adequacy of pay and sufficiency of food correlated with family size to some extent.
Another issue requiring further inspection was the high number of working hours assigned to some workers. In Turkey, the working week is 45 hours, which is slightly more than in Finland. Next, together with the factory management, we will analyse how the livelihood of the workers could be improved. In addition, we will analyse the distribution of working hours among the workers in more detail.
Kemal Ugurlu Tekstil has been our main manufacturing partner since 2013. The factory makes most of Finlayson’s bedding textiles as well as sleep bags, for instance. All the manufacturing steps from raw material to a finished product take place under the same roof; that is, the fabric is processed, printed, cut, sewn, packaged and sent by the factory.
Kemal Ugurlu Tekstil has invested in a new factory and machinery: the factory has been running in the new facilities since 2018. The factory employs altogether 380 people working in administration, dyeing and sewing.
They work one, two or three shifts depending on the job. Lunch and transport to and from work are provided to the workers free of charge. Kemal Ugurlu Tekstil is an amfori BSCI-audited factory. The latest audit was performed in April 2019.
How were the interviews made?
In a country like Turkey, occupational well-being surveys have typically never been performed on factory workers. This was the first time when the workers were asked about their opinions on their working conditions or asked how they are doing in general. At the same time, we explained that their well-being is important for us. Human rights and a decent life belong to every worker.
The interviews were performed on mobile devices in Turkish. The survey was carried out using videos and icons so that being able to read and write was not necessary to be able to answer the survey. A local interpreter also assisted us.
All workers were invited to answer the survey. The anonymity of the respondents was ensured so that everyone answered the questions alone and the names or personal data of the respondents were not collected or linked to the answers at any point.
The interviews were carried out by Work Ahead. Work Ahead also ensured that the workers had access to a suitable adequately private space and could answer the questions confidentially. On the basis of its experience and the analysis of the answers, Work Ahead thinks that the workers were not afraid of expressing their genuine opinions in their answers. The attitude of Kemal Ugurlu’s factory management towards the survey was also very positive.
You can read the entire report and its results here.
Work Ahead helps workers in the supply chain to speak anonymously, confidentially and directly to the factory management. For the participating companies, the well-being of workers is usually important and the companies also want to hear what they have done well and what could be improved.
Work Ahead’s questions relating to human rights, reasonable working conditions and sustainable development help factories and their customers to understand how the workers live and together consider solutions to ensure a decent life for them.