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Child Labourers in the Shoemaking Sector

I’m an 18 years old worker in the shoemaking sector. The factory I work at has around 300 workers and I could say that almost the half of them are children. I also started to work at the age of 14. Although I have been working for 3 years, my social insurance have been paid for just last 6 months. In other words, I’ve been employed informally for 2,5 years. There are many informal workers in our workplace. Especially the children are employed informally and also getting paid less than the minimum wage, 450-500 TL monthly. The company have been denounced for informal employment a few times. Yet the bosses have a way out for that too. In Akçaburgaz near the road to Hadımköy, in the industry zone called ‘San-1’, all shoe-making bosses act together. When the inspectors of Ministery of Labour and Social Security come over for a check, they let each other know immediately to hide the children and informal workers in secluded places. And so, those are all disappeared during the check. During the unexpected checks, the bosses force those to declare that they are new at the work. Another issue is that our boss ask us to kiss his hand while paying our wages as if he is our grandfather. And unfortunately most of us do it.

In this area there are around 2000 workers in various shoemaking factories. Child labourers and informal workers are employed in almost every one of them. The bosses carry out the same policies in every factory. They act together, but we workers can not do the same. We are afraid of being united. The crisis and unemployment play a central role, the situation frightens the workers. But fright doesn’t cure the disease. We need to unite in any case in order to defend our rights.

16 March 2010