9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN14 Gender Relations in the Labour Market and the Welfare State

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Gender, Work and the Recession Building AA, AA.223

Global Economic Crisis and the Aggravating Circumstances of Turkish Women Textile Workers

Cyclical crises of the economy of the last decade and the impact of the global economic crisis have rendered the circumstances of women workers in Turkey more difficult than before. Labour rights have become greatly circumvented by the compartmentalization of production, specifically in the textile sector.
This presentation will be based on a part of the findings of an ongoing field study about women workers in five industrialized provinces of northwestern Turkey. The study is concerned with different types of unrecorded and unsecure employment in textile and food industries and in the services. These sectors have been chosen due to relatively high concentration of women workers therein. In this study, qualitative method is used in order to understand how women are drifted to this type of employment and how they perceive and interpret their own circumstances.
The presentation will cover the preliminary data from the textile industry which is most heavily influenced by the global crisis and will discuss the ongoing process of "flexi-unsecurity" of the employment. Most women workers are initially employed on an irregular basis as unqualified "errand girls" and only a few of them obtain the chances for getting trained on the job and being considered sufficiently qualified for a little more stable and better paid positions. Many women work with high turnover rates and in their work histories there are frequent returns to the domestic sphere. Under these circumstances, they seldom become "indispensable" workers. This situation is also reinforced by the existence of a huge reserve army since the country┬┤s population is relatively young and unqualified. This situation is considered worth analysing, because Turkey is going through a period signified by the rise of an ideological discourse that encourages women to embrace traditional gender roles.
While decreasing the public revenues, unrecorded employment deprives workers of health insurance and retirement benefits. For women, it constitutes a marginal status as well as a work experience which does not really empower them and which they do not consider as a significant aspect of their identities. In other words, it is a problem that consolidates the gender inequalities.