Turkey: Taking child labour out of hazelnut harvesting


“This is how you bend the branches and pick the hazelnuts one by one.” Turkey is the world’s top producer of hazelnuts. 75 per cent of the world’s supply
comes from Turkey, much of it in the Black Sea province of Ordu. Entire families of seasonal workers
set up camp during harvest season. And you can always find young children
working alongside their parents. Most families don’t see any alternative. “Forget about it, I am taking my eleven-year-old to work, otherwise I have no money to take home.” “In Turkey, employment under the age of 14
is banned by law, especially working in the agricultural sector.” “We start working at 6am. We have one hour lunch break at noon. Then we start working again to pick hazelnuts.” But in the heart of the hazelnut region,
there is change. The government
regularly inspects the hazelnut farms, looking for evidence of child labour. “I cannot do it anymore
because there are inspections. Next time I will ask the parents
to take their children to the project school.” The ILO along with growers and the government worked together to provide
20 days of school for 562 children of seasonal workers
in 2013 and 2014. “I like math class the most, and also music. I love studying.
We have fun at school. We can read quicker when we study.” ” I am giving classes to a group of children
who are here to work in the fields. We have tried to convince the families. A small group started to study
and they influenced the others.” With the support of the provincial government, a school and social support center was built near some of the worker settlements as part as the on-going project
continuing until 2017. Now, the children can attend class
during the harvest season. “This project is carried out
by multiple partnerships and aims to be a model for
eliminating child labour in hazelnut harvesting. Even parents long used to seeing
their children at work in the harvest are pleased.” “It is great that the kids
can go to school here. It’s helping them to recover
the missing school time while we are away. Kids will remember what they have learnt
in these classes. It is really great.” International Labour Organization
2015

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