Turkey, Bakur, Kurdistan, cooperatives, coops

Cooperatives: an Alternative against Labour Exploitation

This is a translation of a Turkish language article by Bêrîtan Elyakut, first published by JINHA 16th August, 2016.

AMED – The Mesopotamya Youth Research Centre Textile Cooperative was launched in 2015 in Diyarbakir [Amed]. The cooperative is working collectively against labour exploitation, and is specifically geared towards women.

The textile cooperative is attracting attention with its activities for young people, culture and arts, sports and vocational courses and communal living. They have opened a workshop in order to create jobs for young people and young women in particular are offered work there on an equal basis. The Mesopotamya Youth Research Centre that launched the cooperative has created another workshop in Kizltepe exclusively for women. In Van, they are getting ready to open another women’s textile workshop.

Against a wasted life

Textile worker Emine Kaya has led discussions about the communal economy for years. She says that cooperatives must be founded in order to bring the communal economy to life. She says that labour exploitation is rife, especially in the textile industry. In order to create an alternative, she had to take matters into her own hands. “We are trying to create a space for those who don’t want to live wasted lives. We started a project where people’s work is not exploited and wasted”, she says.

This alternative must spread

Cooperatives must be founded in all areas, not only for youth, says Leyla Akarsu. “The cooperative is for everyone, but women are in a particularly difficult situation. We are bringing down the phenomena of male power with this work. Where women are empowered, men also go through a transformation.”

“My work is not undervalued here”

Leyla says that she previously worked in a few textile factories in Istanbul, and that she ended up being forced into intense labour exploitation. “In all the textile workshops I worked in in Istanbul, the work conditions were tough. People’s work is exploited, and women’s work in particular goes unrecognised. When I came to Diyarbakir, I decided to open this workshop. Here, women’s work is recognised and valued. I am glad that I came here”, she says.