“Turkey’s Child Labour Problem” by Gamze Pamuk Ateşli, CHP Party Assembly Member

There is a truth that intensifies over time in Turkey and in the world : children labour. Sometimes, we see them in workplaces as apprentice, or as agricultural labourer, and often we witness that they are being forced to work. However, we rarely think that this kind of employment is a violation of human and children rights.


According to the ILO, Child Labour refers to work that deprives children (any person under 18) of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and/or mental development.
UNICEF defines “child labour as work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work.
The problem of child labour, the worst forms of them in particular, is one of the most important problems that Turkey should sort out. Turkey adopted International Labour Standards Convention which urgently calls for the end of worst forms of child labour, in 2001. The worst forms of child labour are street works and seasonal agricultural works in small and medium sized enterprises in Turkey.
The ruling party in Turkey anounced national campaign program for fight against child labour which starts from the year of 2017 up to 2023 in the leadership of Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family, but they did not share any data about the program afterward. In the course of this program, the ruling party declared the year of 2018 as fight with child labour, however, they did not take any concrete step. It is known that there are some groups that do not include in the children workforce survey TUIK,turkey statistical institution, published which states that there is seven hundred twenty thousand(720.000) children working across the country. For example, Syrian immigrant children are not involved in this data and four hundred thousand(400.000)apprentices, around one million one hundred sixty thousand(1.160.000) interns and students that undertake vocational education are not included as well. We predict that there are almost two million children labour in the workforce in Turkey. According to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Children have fundamental rights such as rights to be protected, sheltered. They are deprived of these rights when they work so children labour is a matter of human rights. It appears to be the hardest form of labour exploitation and moreover, they are not only subject to violation of human rights but also negligence and abuse. It is state’s duty to protect chilren who are unsecured and unprotected but humanity also owes children and pay it with the fight in this field. Children labour, based on exploitation, should be put an end and firstly children’s rights of life should be protected and they should be met with education.


UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty that is signed and adopted most by the countries. International and regional standarts that are set including the ones adopted by European Council about children rights and these documents are landmark in an attempt to remove discrimination and support them in the legal field. Despite all these comprehensive documents and commitments about children rights, millions of children across the world are far from these targets. In the course of the membership of European Union, social institutions became more involved in governments ‘ agenda and that led to consider social issues more by many more countries. One of the fields of these issues is children rights and it is expected to handle with this situation in the course of the membership of EU. It is considered as a barrier to development. Besides, children rights are conceived as a part of human rights and it is also expected to follow procedures about children rights in the level of union and countries both. As their rights are violated in work life, we put them in danger and lose our potential and future. There are some steps to be taken . The removal of children labour is up to permenant and new , healthy policies. Measures should be taken against poverty of children. The solution of children labour may be possible if inequality of classes are elevated. Impunity of violation of children rights should be put an end in order to fight against children labour. Audits should be effective and employment of children labour should be deterrent. It is observed that the numbers of children labour has increased with the new education system (4+4+4). Reforms should be taken into place. Awareness of public should be increased.

Gamze Pamuk Ateşli

CHP Party Assembly Member


About CHP EU Representation

The CHP was founded on 9 September 1923, about one and half month before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. The first President of modern Turkey’s oldest party was M. Kemal Atatürk. Today CHP is a social-democratic party, member of the Socialist International and associate member of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament. The scope of the CHP bureau in Brussels is not limited to the bilateral framework of Turkey's EU accession process. Issues such as the information society, energy policies, social development, climate change, international trade and security are among the different focus areas. The EU-Turkey relations are about integration and need multiple, plural and horizontal channels of communication. The CHP supports and promotes Turkey's EU membership process also by being more present and active in Brussels The CHP's Representative to the EU is Ms Kader Sevinç who previously worked as an MEP advisor at the European Parliament and in the private sector.
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