Turkey: Dangerous working conditions in FSC-certified forests

13 November 2018 22:07

Workers in the Aladag forests in Turkey continue to work under unsafe conditions with poor health and safety standards. Although there have been some improvements since this was first revealed in 2015, the Turkish union TARIM ORMAN-IS reports of long hours and lack of protective equipment.

The SGS Turkey Office, as one of the major certification bodies in Turkey, has appointed an auditor to run regular audits for Aladag Forest Sub-District Directorate, which obtained FM/COC FSC Certificate in 2016 in compliance with FSC National Standards. TARIM ORMAN-IS, a member of FSC International, joined the monitoring process as a stakeholder in September 2018.

The union submitted its first stakeholder audit report on the forest management and working conditions in Aladag Forest Sub-District Directorate in 2015. The poor working conditions had been reported in this report noting the dangerous working environment for workers in the area. In reviewing the recent audit report, the union notes that forest management methods have improved compared to the conditions in 2015; however, the poor working conditions and inadequate health and safety standards have yet to be improved. This is highlighted by the fact that 170 unregistered workers are working long hours without any personal protective equipment.

According to TARIM ORMAN-IS the SGS auditor’s reports are inadequate, particularly in the evaluation of workers’ working conditions and their compliance with FSC National Standards.

Sukru Durmus, President of TARIM ORMAN-IS said, “We have been trying to join the audit and pre-examination processes in FSC-certified forests to reveal a better picture of the real working conditions on the ground. We are concerned that SGS auditor in Turkey has unfortunately ignored the negative evaluations made by the union to avoid the cancellation of the certification in the area. We hope that SGS auditor would revisit and include the comments submitted by the union as workers’ lives are at risk.”

TARIM ORMAN-IS has found that the audit reports to be useful instruments to record real working conditions and thus, to put pressure on Directorates to ensure better working.