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Turkish labor watchdog reports death of 26 underage workers in 5 months

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Turkey’s Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG) has said at least 26 underage workers died in work-related accidents in Turkey in the first five months of the year.

In its report released on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labor, the organization tackled the issue of young workers between the ages of six and 17, a broader scope compared to the country’s official statistical institute, TurkStat, which only provides figures for the 15-17 age group.

As a result of growing problems seen in the economy, 41.4 percent of youngsters performing a job had to work in order to contribute to household income, while 28.7 percent were contributing to their families’ business activities. Half of them could not pursue their education because of their work.

Of the 26 underage workers who died over the first five months of 2019, four were migrants. Nine were under the age of 14, which is the legal threshold below which no one can work. Many of those above the age of 15 worked in heavy and dangerous lines of work such as chemicals and metals.

Exposure to toxic substances, drowning, falls and traffic accidents were among the leading causes of death. Those who drowned were all agricultural workers who went into irrigation canals for water or to refresh themselves.

The report said the number of underage workers grew by nearly 7,000 in 2018. Despite being declared the “year of fighting against child labor,” 2018 ended up being the year with the highest number of work-related deaths among underage workers.

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