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Chapter 19: Social Policy and Employment*

There is no progress to report regarding transposition of the acquis on labour law. The
limited scope of the Labour Law and transposition of a number of directives remain to be addressed. The administrative capacity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and its affiliated institutions is not yet sufficient. Some efforts were made to combat child labour, but further resources are needed to address this persisting problem. In the area of labour law, Turkey is not yet sufficiently prepared.

Some progress has been made in the area of health and safety at work. Expertise on the
acquis improved as a result of training and awareness-raising activities. However, the lack of legislation to transpose Framework Directive on the safety and health of workers at work is a major shortcoming. Amongst other issues, employees in the public sector are still not covered by the health and safety legislation. The system for collecting data on occupational diseases and accidents needs to be further strengthened. According to the latest official statistics, 80,602 occupational accidents occurred in 200740. Accidents in the informal sector go unreported. As regards administrative capacity, the Labour Inspection Board was strengthened, including by means of training and recruitment of extra staff. However, the inspector per employee ratio is inadequate to guarantee effective monitoring of implementation of the legislation41. Preparations in this area are ongoing.

There has been little progress in the social dialogue. The reinstitution of 1 May as R16;Labour
and Solidarity Day’ after 28 years was an encouraging step. The reform of trade UNION
legislation is pending for several years. Full trade UNION rights have not yet been established in Turkey. The current legal framework is not in line with EU standards and ILO Conventions, in particular as regards the right to organise, the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively, for both the private and public sectors. The ILO Committee of experts called upon Turkey to adopt these reforms and suggested the organisation of a high-level bipartite mission to assist the government. Social dialogue, at cross-industry, sector and corporate level, remains generally weak. Overall, the percentage of workers benefiting from collective labour agreements is low42. The channels for tripartite social dialogue, in particular the Economic and Social Council, need to be strengthened. In the area of social dialogue, Turkey is not yet sufficiently prepared.

The Labour Law does not apply, inter alia, to businesses or enterprises in agriculture and forestry which employ fewer than 50 workers, to apprentices and to trades and crafts businesses employing fewer than three persons. The incidence of accidents is highest in manufacturing of metal products (except machinery). Fatal cases of silicosis caused by poor working conditions in jeans sandblasting workshops continued to occur.

There are 591 labour inspectors, of whom 306 are social inspectors and 285 are health and safety inspectors. The number of employees is around 19,500,000 (excluding civil servants). That gives a ratio of around one inspector for every 32,994 workers. The ILO standard is one inspector for every 20,000 workers in transition economies.
42 The collective agreements concluded in 2007 and 2008 cover a total of 694,474 workers out of 21,194,000 in employment (i.e. 3%).

There has been some progress on employment policy, in particular to reduce the negative
effects of the economic and financial crisis. A number of individual measures to stimulate
employment, among other the extension of short-term work duration by six months, was
adopted in August 2009. This complements the incentives for employment creation already adopted in 2008 under the “Employment package”. In the absence of an overall employment strategy, the impact has to be seen.

The fight against the informal economy has been given a higher profile. The government adopted an action plan which combines a series of incentives and legal sanctions. However, the action plan lacks measurable targets and indicators and the method of measuring undeclared work still has to be further developed. The employment rate and labour force participation remain low, although the latter increased for the first time in years43 (see Economic criteria). The labour market deteriorated, against the background of the economic and financial crisis. The unemployment rate rose rapidly to 13.6% in the second quarter of 2009, especially youth unemployment. The latter reached 24.9% for the second quarter of 2009. As a result, demand for the services of the Turkish Employment Agency (ISKUR) increased rapidly. However, this was not met by a proportionate increase in human resources. The law on Turkey’s participation in the PROGRESS Community Programme has entered into force. No progress can be reported towards finalisation of the Joint Assessment Paper on Employment Priority Policies (JAP). Preparations in this area are at an early stage.

There has been good progress on the preparations for the European Social Fund (ESF). The operating structure established under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which is responsible for management of the IPA operational programme on human resources development, has recruited additional personnel and provided training. The process to confer powers on Turkish authorities for decentralised management of the IPA management and control system has been finalised and a related financing agreement has been signed. Actions on promotion of female, youth and registered employment, on lifelong learning activities and on increasing girls’ school enrolment rates will be supported in the framework of the IPA operational programme on human resources development. Preparations in this area are on track.

There has been little progress in the field of social inclusion. The percentage of the
population at risk of poverty is very high. According to the latest (2007) Poverty Survey,
18.56% of Turkey’s population live below the poverty line, a slight increase since 2006.
People living in rural areas are at considerably greater risk of poverty than urban dwellers.
Poverty is also high among the working population, especially among casual/ seasonal
workers, unpaid family workers, the self-employed and those in subsistence agriculture.
Because social transfers are lacking, children are at disproportionate risk of poverty. The
national mechanisms for monitoring poverty and social inclusion are weak. No progress can be reported towards the finalisation of the Joint Social Protection and Social Inclusion Memorandum (JIM). Preparations in this area are at an early stage.

There has been no progress in the field of social protection. The percentage of people
covered by social security is slightly below 80% and has been declining. Efficient planning, coordination and provision of social protection, social assistance and social services are still lacking. Often this results in arbitrary delivery of services and benefits, without objective and transparent criteria44. The draft law on social assistance and payments without premiums is 41.7% and 46.39% respectively. The report of the State Supervision Board (DDK) acknowledges these problems, and recommends a better definition of types and amounts of social assistance, together with a definition of poverty; and expected to address these issues, but has still not been adopted. The impact of the recent social security reform on the socially excluded is not yet clear. Preparations in this area are at an early stage.

There has been no progress on anti-discrimination. There is no definition in law of direct
and indirect discrimination. The acquis concerning discrimination on grounds of racial or
ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation has not yet been
There is still no Equality body in Turkey,
as required by the acquis. Dialogue with non-governmental operators in this area needs to be improved. Preparations in this area are not very advanced.

Some progress can be reported in the field of equal opportunities. A Parliamentary
Commission on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women was established (see Political
criteria R11; Economic and social rights). This will monitor developments in the field of gender equality, give opinions on draft laws and determine the legislative work needed to align with the international agreements to which Turkey is a party. It will also examine claims of violations of equality between women and men and gender-based discrimination, which are referred to it by the Presidency of parliament. Turkey adopted a national action plan for gender equality for 2008-2013, but it contains no information on human or financial resources. However, women’s participation in the labour market remains the lowest among EU Member States and OECD countries. The gender pay gap persists45. There is still no quality body in Turkey, as required by the acquis. Preparations in this area are on track.

Overall, Turkey made limited progress in the field of social policy and employment. The
establishment of a Parliamentary Commission on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women is a positive step. Preparations for participation in the European Social Fund have accelerated. However, the legislation on labour law, health and safety at work and on anti-discrimination is not in line with EU standards. There has been no progress towards achieving full trade UNION rights in line with EU standards and ILO Conventions. Women’s participation in the labour market is very low. Efforts to combat undeclared work need to be stepped up. A substantial proportion of the population is at risk of poverty, especially children. Due attention needs to be paid to the finalisation of the Joint Social Protection and Social Inclusion. Memorandum and of the Joint Assessment Paper on Employment Priority Policies. The administrative capacity for effective implementation of the acquis in the area of social policy and employment needs to be improved.