Global supply chain https://scienceblogs.com/ en Latest data on working conditions in global supply chains, September 2017 edition https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/21/latest-data-on-working-conditions-in-global-supply-chains-september-2017-edition <span>Latest data on working conditions in global supply chains, September 2017 edition</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The whole world is one global supply chain. Brand name companies like Nike, Apple, Hasbro, and dozens of apparel companies do not actually make the consumer products they sell. Instead they hire contract manufacturers in the developing world to produce their goods, and these contractors have sub-contractors, and sub-sub-contractors, all the way down to industrial homework in workers’ homes. Global supply chains start with processing the products’ raw materials, manufacturing parts and the finished product, and then transportation to the consumer.</p> <p>How can a conscientious consumer or occupational health professional keep track of working conditions and workers’ rights in global supply chains? There is a comprehensive “one stop” way, and then multi-stop methods for the more ambitious.</p> <p>For one-stop shopping, sign up for weekly notifications from the UK’s “<a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org">Business &amp; Human Rights Resource Centre”</a>. The staff of this non-profit organization in London scours the internet every day for the latest reports from companies, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on all aspects of global business. Their concise weekly update provides the headlines for what has been released that week, and <u>also</u> the response of the corporations whose operations are the subject of the reports.</p> <p>Not all the companies respond to the <a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org">Resource Centre’s</a> invitation to comment, but the most publicity-conscious corporations often do, providing a richer understanding of impact of global supply chains and the varied efforts to improve working conditions.</p> <p>In general, there are four sources of information about working conditions and the efforts to implement corrective actions in these supply chains: news media reports; factory reports from NGOs, factory reports from “multi-stakeholder initiatives” (MSIs); and reports from the corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments of the transnational corporations themselves.</p> <p>I have <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359537803/Table-1-CSR-Articles-Reports-Jul-Sept-2017">assembled a selection</a> of the key reports and articles from these four sources for the period of June to September 2017. Some of my favorites this quarter are:</p> <ul><li>The International Labor Organization’s <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_574717/lang--en/index.htm">report</a> on the 40+ million people caught in modern slavery;</li> <li>A Fordham University law professor’s <a href="https://wsr-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Gordon-CSR-vs-WSR-FINAL-July-2017.pdf">critique</a> of corporate social responsibility;</li> <li>The <em>Guardian</em> and <em>Washington Post</em> articles on illegal and abusive conditions in Ivanka Trump’s shoe factories in China (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/13/revealed-reality-of-a-life-working-in-an-ivanka-trump-clothing-factory">here</a>, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/ivanka-trump-overseas/?utm_term=.fd8173b24a4e&amp;wpisrc=nl_heads-draw6&amp;wpmm=1">here</a>); and</li> <li>The Baptist World Aid (Australia) <a href="https://baptistworldaid.org.au/action/who-makes-my-clothes/?_cldee=Z2FycmV0dGRicm93bkBjb21jYXN0Lm5ldA%3d%3d&amp;recipientid=contact-4d1de43c5151e711814c02df0a9e492b-ff148bc6cf574826a0a56d2dbffc63d9&amp;utm_source=ClickDimensions&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=Advocacy%20Enews&amp;esid=ea74b586-7e9e-e711-8153-02df0a9e492b">computer simulation</a> game on “who makes my clothes?”</li> </ul><p>A more ambitious, and time-consuming, way to stay informed is to sign up for the weekly or monthly notices from the following <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359537955/Table-2-Table-for-All-Organizations">types of organizations</a>:</p> <ul><li>Labor rights organizations, such as the <a href="http://www.cleanclothes.org">Clean Clothes Campaign</a> and <a href="http://www.goodelectronics.org">Good Electronics</a></li> <li>Multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the <a href="http://www.ehticaltrade.org">Ethical Trading Initiative</a> and <a href="http://www.fashionrevolution.org">Fashion Revolution</a></li> <li>Corporate social responsibility organizations and industry associations, such as <a href="http://www.eiccoalition.org">Electronics Industry Citizen Coalition</a></li> </ul><p>If one has an interest in supply chains that involve a particular area of the world, then <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359537972/Table-3-Table-of-Regional-Organizations">these organizations’ web sites</a> can be visited regularly for news from Asia, Africa and the Americas.</p> <p>If one has a particular industry in mind then <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359538023/Table-4-Table-for-Specific-Industries">these organizations’ web sites</a> can be followed, including apparel, electronics and toys, although some these organizations focus more than just one industry’s supply chain.</p> <p>Dozens of labor, human rights, and environmental groups are monitoring and investigating global supply chains. Every week they issue detailed and first-hand reports from the factory floors and communities that make up global supply chains. They want consumers and advocates to have this information. They want this information to inform decision making and public policy. They want it to influence the reputation of transnational corporations. They want it to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families and communities around the world.</p> <p>So dive in! Use the knowledge to make a difference!</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/child-labor" hreflang="en">child labor</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/business-human-rights-resource-centre" hreflang="en">Business &amp; Human Rights Resource Centre</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/corporate-social-responsibility" hreflang="en">corporate social responsibility</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/21/latest-data-on-working-conditions-in-global-supply-chains-september-2017-edition%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:55:52 +0000 garrettbrown 62930 at https://scienceblogs.com Bangladesh Accord extended three years – worker protections strengthened, proponents promote an “alternative to standard CSR programs” https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/18/bangladesh-accord-is-extended-for-three-years-worker-protections-strengthened-as-proponents-promote-an-alternative-to-standard-csr-programs <span>Bangladesh Accord extended three years – worker protections strengthened, proponents promote an “alternative to standard CSR programs”</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Two global unions, four labor rights organizations and 23 apparel brands and retailers agreed in late June to amend and extend the ground-breaking <a href="http://bangladeshaccord.org">Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety</a> that has led to safer working conditions for 4 million garment workers in the world’s #2 apparel producer.  The legally-binding agreement, initiated in 2013 following the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,138 workers in Dhaka, is a success story that could improve working conditions in other countries and global supply chains.</p> <p>The <a href="http://bangladeshaccord.org/wp-content/uploads/2018-Accord-full-text.pdf">new Accord agreement</a>, which goes into effect in May 2018 when the current Accord agreement expires, strengthens several aspects of the original program. These include reinforced protections for workers against retaliation for expressing safety concerns and for seeking to organize a union; mandatory severance payments for factory closures; tightened requirements to correct identified hazards in a timely fashion; and improved dispute resolution between the brands and unions.</p> <p>The new agreement builds on the original five-year Accord that involves 217 clothing brands and retailers covering 2.5 million workers in more than 1,600 factories in the “ready-made garment” industry. The industry produces 80 percent of Bangladesh’s export earnings and is second only to China in world apparel production.  The garment workforce is 80 percent female with many young women coming from the countryside. Unions represent less than 3 percent of the workers.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.industriall-union.org">IndustriALL Global Union</a>, its Bangladesh affiliates, and the <a href="http://uniglobalunion.org">UNI Global Union</a> are the trade unions involved while the four labor rights non-government organizations are the <a href="https://cleanclothes.org">Clean Clothes Campaign</a>, <a href="http://www.laborrights.org">International Labor Rights Forum</a>, <a href="http://www.maquilasolidarity.org">Maquila Solidarity Network</a>, and the <a href="http://www.workersrights.org">Worker Rights Consortium</a>.</p> <p><strong>Accomplishments</strong></p> <p>In the 15 years prior to the Accord, the industry experienced dozens of fatal fires and building collapses.  In the four years since the Accord began conducting genuinely independent and publicly reported inspections of garment factories, its accomplishments include:</p> <ul><li>Zero garment worker deaths due to fires or collapses in Accord-inspected factories;</li> <li>Initial and 7,000 follow-up inspections of 1,800 garment factories where the inspection findings, corrective action plans and actual progress in eliminating identified hazards have all been publicly released;</li> <li>Identification of more than 118,500 specific hazards in the factories, and the correction of 79% of these hazards (it is unlikely that 100% will be eliminated in the remaining year of the original Accord);</li> <li>Closure of 32 factories with structural failures which might have become the “next Rana Plaza” had they continued to operate; and</li> <li>More than 500,000 workers received training in basic fire and building safety topics, as well as effective participation in factory health and safety committees (now mandatory under both Bangladesh law and the Accord).</li> </ul><p>There are two primary reasons for the delay in completing all required hazard corrections: (1) many of the remaining hazards involve major building structure repairs, and (2) factory owners have not been able to access the necessary funding that was to be provided or facilitated by the clothing brands and international funding mechanisms.</p> <p>The Accord’s work has been done in the context of major international efforts by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and governments around the world to increase the capacity of the Bangladesh government to establish and enforce labor, health and safety regulations, as well as the ability of factory owners to implement effective factory-level health and safety programs.</p> <p>More than 350 new labor and fire service inspectors have been hired by the Bangladesh government as part of a “National Action Plan” to improve workplace safety throughout the national economy. The ILO and others have trained thousands of government inspectors, factory supervisors and managers, and workers and their unions on basic occupational safety and health topics.</p> <p>Besides the Accord, there is a second private sector effort to strengthen worker safety. The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety involves 26 brands in the US and Canada, and covers about 600 factories. It is a corporate-only effort that has mirrored some aspects of the Accord program, but does not report publicly on progress in correcting hazards and has already declared that it will cease operations in May 2018.</p> <p><strong>Elements of the New Accord</strong></p> <p>The structure of the new Accord will remain the same with a Steering Committee composed of three brand and three union representatives with the ILO acting as the neutral chair. The Accord’s Chief Safety Inspector will continue to report to the Steering Committee, and will remain autonomous in the implementation of the program. Funding for the organization is provided by the member brands based on their size and level of production in Bangladesh. The Accord is a legally-binding agreement between the brands and unions. Disputes are resolved in binding arbitration by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and enforceable by court action in the brands’ home countries.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.uniglobalunion.org/2018AccordSigners">brands which have signed on</a> for the new Accord include major European clothing brands – C&amp;A, H&amp;M, Inditex (Zara), Primark, Tchibo and KiK – as well as the US-based Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH) Corporation.  PVH brands include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Speedo, Warner's and Olga. It is estimated that about 1,000 of the current 1,660 Accord factories and 1.5 million workers will continue to be covered by the new Accord after May 2018.</p> <p>The Accord will continue to function in close collaboration with the ILO, other international efforts, and the Bangladesh government with the ultimate goal of handing the program over to competent, sufficiently resourced national regulatory agencies. In fact, the Steering Committee will evaluate in December 2019 whether the Bangladesh government agencies are able to take over the program, or to continue with the Accord until the scheduled termination in May 2021.</p> <p>In addition to completing the correction of all hazards identified during the first Accord, the new Accord will also focus on protecting workers’ “freedom of association” rights under ILO conventions to organize factory unions as an important method of developing <a href="https://www.hrw.org/print/303571">meaningful worker participation</a> in health and safety programs.</p> <p>Other enhancements of the original Accord program include:</p> <ul><li>Incorporation of all suppliers (including sub-contractors) of the signatory brands into the requirements of the Accord;</li> <li>Mandatory and time-bound deadlines for factory hazard corrections;</li> <li>Reiterated responsibility on the part of international brands to provide incentives, direct or facilitated financing to factory owners to ensure timely repairs and renovations;</li> <li>Mandatory severance pay up to six months for factory closures;</li> <li>Protection of workers’ “right to refuse” unsafe working conditions, including in buildings with fire and imminent structural collapse hazards;</li> <li>Incorporation of “freedom of association rights” into factory training programs, as well as OHS topics; and</li> <li>Clarified timelines and mediation opportunities in dispute resolution procedures.</li> </ul><p><strong>Possible Expansion of the Scope of the OHS Program</strong></p> <p>The new agreement also lays the basis for an expansion of the scope of the Accord, on a “voluntary basis” as decided by the Steering Committee, both in the types of factories and in the types of hazards covered by the new Accord.</p> <p>On June 1, 2017, a <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/news/2017/06/16/textile-mill-fire-in-bangladesh-signals-need-for-expanded-safety-inspections-and-remedy">fire broke out at the Pakiza Textile Ltd. factory</a> in Dhaka which injured more than 21 workers. Since 2013, local media have reported that more than 100 workers have been killed in factory fires in the textile sector. The Accord’s current jurisdiction is restricted to garment assembly plants.</p> <p>The “witness signatories” of the Accord – the four labor rights organizations which signed and support the Accord and have voice but no vote in the Steering Committee – have proposed expanding its jurisdiction to include textile factories, spinning mills, leather tanneries, and apparel washing facilities – basically all garment and home-textile facilities producing for export.</p> <p>If these factories are included in the new Accord, an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 additional factories will be covered after May 2018.</p> <p>Boiler inspections are also not currently part of the Accord program, despite a history of fatal boiler explosions in Bangladesh, including at a plastic packaging factory last year. Earlier this month, at least 13 workers were killed, and more than 50 injured, on July 3, 2017, when a <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/news/2017/07/04/bangladesh-factory-explosion-shows-need-to-expand-accord-inspections-to-boilers">boiler exploded at the Multifabs Ltd.</a> garment factory in Dhaka. The pressure relief valve of the 20-year-old boiler failed, causing an explosion and fire in the 6,000-worker factory and a partial collapse of the four-story building. Fire-rated walls around boilers are part of Accord requirements, but the explosion at Multifabs Ltd. breached the wall and spread the fire from the ground floor to upper floors.</p> <p>The factory, which exported $70 million worth of garments in 2016, had been inspected by auditors from the European Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) in May 2016.  BSCI is a standard “corporate social responsibility” monitoring program where the findings of factory inspections and hazard corrections, if any, are not public.</p> <p>The Accord’s witness signatories have proposed expanding the Accord’s inspection protocols to include the equipment and operations of boilers, electrical generators, natural gas lines, and freight elevators.</p> <p><strong>Factory Owner Opposition to Accord Extension</strong></p> <p>The extension of the Accord beyond May 2018 and proposed scope revisions of the new Accord are <a href="http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2017/07/08/76331/Apparel-makers-get-united-to-mount-pressure-against-Accord/'s-extension">strongly opposed</a> by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).</p> <p>An emergency meeting of BGMEA members is scheduled for late July to oppose the “unilateral extension of the Accord” and to petition the government to intervene and prohibit the new Accord. The employer organizations object to the new Accord’s greater emphasis on the rights of workers to organize and join a union, and the enhanced protections for workers whose factories are closed or relocated for safety reasons.</p> <p>BGMEA Vice President Mahmud Hasan Khan proposed that the government strengthen the recently formed “Remediation Coordination Cell” – the RCC is a joint effort of several government agencies tasked with overseeing the elimination of identified safety hazards at garment factories – so that it can take over all safety activities in the industry in 2018.</p> <p><strong>Controversy over the Accord Model</strong></p> <p>The proposed expansion of jurisdiction and scope in the new Accord highlights a controversy among some labor rights advocates. Is the Accord is a model that should be expanded to other countries and the supply chains of other consumer products? Or is itan example of corporate-funded privatization of regulatory functions (inspections, mandatory hazard correction, and worker rights protection) that should be conducted by governments?</p> <p>Unions and labor activists in the United States, Canada, Australia and the European Union have consistently opposed “third party monitoring” financed by corporations in lieu of government inspections of labor rights, including health and safety.</p> <p>It is widely recognized in the OHS profession that safe workplaces depend on strong government regulations and enforcement combined with genuine participation by workers and their organizations, and management commitment and resources for effective factory-level health and safety committees and programs. The question is what to do when these elements simply do not exist, as is the case in Bangladesh and in many other countries which are part of global supply chains.</p> <p>Accord model proponents have responded that reliance solely on the Bangladesh government – notorious for its corruption, lack of financial and technical resources, and the overwhelming influence of factory owners – means condemning garment workers to uncontrolled hazards that have caused hundreds of deaths and injuries in the last decade.</p> <p>The Accord is substantially different from the standard corporate-controlled and -financed CSR programs in several important ways:</p> <ul><li>It is a legally binding agreement between unions and corporations where the workers’ representatives have an equal voice and vote, and there is an enforceable dispute resolution process;</li> <li>The inspection procedures are genuinely independent of the companies, and all the inspection findings, mandatory corrective action plans, and progress of implementing these are publicly reported and posted on the internet; and</li> <li>Workers’ rights to participate in factory health and safety programs, to refuse unsafe work, and to organize for a collective voice are explicitly recognized in the Accord, and there are meaningful penalties set for violations of these rights.</li> </ul><p>In the words of the global union leaders who signed the new Accord:</p> <blockquote><p>“The Accord is, at present, the only credible option for health and safety in Bangladesh garment factories. It shows that industrial relations can be used to save lives and improve global supply chains,” said Valter Sanches of IndustriALL.</p></blockquote> <p>Christy Hoffman of UNI Global declared,</p> <blockquote><p>“simply put, this model of accountability and transparency works.  The first agreement is saving lives, and the 2018 Accord strengthens worker protections by explicitly acknowledging the role unions play in making work safe.”</p></blockquote> <p>Lynda Yanz of Canada’s Maquila Solidarity Network noted</p> <blockquote><p>“the Accord has not yet met all of its goals, but it has already distinguished itself as a huge advance over all the initiatives that preceded it. The agreement has unquestionably been challenging to implement and it has encountered many bumps in the road, with renovations running well behind schedule in many instances. However, the progress achieved is real, it involves tens of thousands of documented safety improvements, and it has reduced risks for millions of workers.”</p></blockquote> <p>The debate over the most effective method – or combination of methods – of improving working conditions and protect workers’ rights in global supply chains will no doubt continue, especially for countries where the government is weak or corrupt or both. But the Bangladesh Accord has already demonstrated real progress and it is an experiment that deserves close study and consideration in a global economy which gets more harsh and pitiless for working people every day.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Tue, 07/18/2017 - 12:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/bangladesh-accord" hreflang="en">Bangladesh Accord</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/maquila-solidarity-network" hreflang="en">Maquila Solidarity Network</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/rana-plaza-disaster" hreflang="en">Rana Plaza disaster</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/07/18/bangladesh-accord-is-extended-for-three-years-worker-protections-strengthened-as-proponents-promote-an-alternative-to-standard-csr-programs%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:47:11 +0000 garrettbrown 62893 at https://scienceblogs.com Keeping track of working conditions and workers’ rights in global supply chains https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/20/keeping-track-of-working-conditions-and-workers-rights-in-global-supply-chains <span>Keeping track of working conditions and workers’ rights in global supply chains</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>With the whole world literally involved in global supply chains – how to keep track of working conditions and workers’ rights in global supply chains? There is a comprehensive “one stop” way – and then a several-other-stops method for the more ambitious.</p> <p>The one-stop shopping is to sign up for weekly notifications from the UK’s <a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org">Business &amp; Human Rights Resource Centre.</a> The staff of this non-profit organization in London scours the internet every day for the latest reports from companies, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on all aspects of global business.  Their concise weekly update provides the headlines for what has been released that week, and <u>also</u> the response of the corporations whose operations are the subject of the reports.</p> <p>Not all the companies respond to the Resource Centre’s invitation to comment, but the most publicity-conscious corporations often do, providing a richer understanding of impact of global supply chains and the varied efforts to improve working conditions.</p> <p>Global supply chains (GSC) <a href="http://www.ilo.org/public/libdoc//ilo/2016/116B09_43_engl.pdf">now involve 20% of all jobs</a> in the global economy, according to the <a href="http://www.ilo.org">International Labor Organization</a>. These jobs are found in all phases of GSCs – from extraction of raw materials, to processing and manufacturing, to distribution and use, and finally waste streams of discarded products.</p> <p>The ILO estimates that large percentages of the jobs in Asia (particularly China, Korea and Taiwan) are connected to GSCs, about one-third of the jobs in the European Union, and 11% of jobs in the United States, for a total of more than 450 million workers worldwide.</p> <p>Virtually every industry involves one or more aspects of GSC , but the most well-known and most closely watched include apparel (garments and shoes), electronics, athletic shoes and equipment, toys, and food (agriculture and fishing).</p> <p>In general, there are four sources of information about working conditions and the efforts to implement corrective actions in these supply chains: news media reports; factory reports from NGOs, factory reports from “Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives” (MSIs), and reports from the corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments of the transnational corporations themselves.</p> <p>The more ambitious and time-consuming way to stay informed is to sign up for the weekly or monthly notices of the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/351819983/Global-Supply-Chain-Table-for-All-Organizations-Garrett-Brown">following types of organizations</a>:</p> <ul><li>Labor rights organizations</li> <li>Multi-stakeholder initiatives</li> <li>Corporate social responsibility organizations and industry associations</li> </ul><p>If one has an interest in supply chains that involve a particular area of the world, then the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/351820042/Table-for-Regional-Organizations-Global-Supply-Chains-Garrett-Brown">following organizations’ websites</a> can be visited regularly for news from Asia, Africa and the Americas.</p> <p>If one has a particular industry in mind then the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/351823177/Table-C-Specific-Industries-Garrett-Brown-June-2017">following organizations’ websites</a> can be followed, although some these organizations focus more than just one industry’s supply chain, including apparel, electronics and toys.</p> <p>Finally, just to provide a sampling of the ever-flowing river of reports about GSC that are issued every month, here are <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/351823235/Table-D-Global-Supply-Chain-Selected-2017-Reports-Garrett-Brown">links to key reports</a> issued in 2017 for several industries:</p> <ul><li>Theory and practice of corporate social responsibility</li> <li>Apparel (garment and shoes)</li> <li>Electronics</li> <li>Food (agriculture and fishing)</li> </ul><p>There is a world of information on the web about GSC , and it can appear to be overwhelming.  But the easiest place to start is the Business &amp; Human Rights Resource Centre.  Then you can dive in anywhere in the world, and for any industry’s GSC, that is of interest.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Tue, 06/20/2017 - 08:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/06/20/keeping-track-of-working-conditions-and-workers-rights-in-global-supply-chains%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:57:59 +0000 garrettbrown 62874 at https://scienceblogs.com Government, industry crackdown in Bangladesh threatens health & safety improvements; clothing brands petitioned to respond https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/01/26/government-industry-crackdown-in-bangladesh-threatens-health-clothing-brands-petitioned-to-respond <span>Government, industry crackdown in Bangladesh threatens health &amp; safety improvements; clothing brands petitioned to respond</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Mass firings by garment factories and a wave of government arrests of union leaders and worker rights advocates threatens the gains made in improving workplace health and safety for the 4 million, mainly women, garment workers in Bangladesh. A shadow of fear and intimidation has fallen over the nation’s 3,500 export garment factories, undermining the ongoing process to establish factory health and safety committees that have genuine, active participation by workers.</p> <p>International clothing brands have tremendous influence in Bangladesh because of the $26 billion in apparel exports they ordered from the country in 2016. The clothing brands are now <a href="https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/brands-respect-basic-rights">being petitioned</a> to use that influence with their supplier factories to rehire the fired workers, and with the government to release two dozen union leaders being held in prison without bail.</p> <p>Starting on December 11, 2016, a wave of strikes began in Ashulia, an industrial suburb of Dhaka. The strike wave eventually involved 59 factories and thousands of garment workers.  The workers were demanding an increase of the country’s minimum wage of 5,300 Taka (or $67) a month, to 15,000 ($191) Taka a month. About half of the garment workers receive no more than the minimum wage. They are only able to support themselves and their families by working many hours of overtime, not all of which is paid or paid in accordance with labor law.</p> <p>The minimum wage was last raised in 2013, following mass protests in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse. The cost of living, however, has increased substantially since then.  Minimum wages have been doubled in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia over the same period.  Researchers indicate that even the 15,000 Taka monthly minimum is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/08/bangladesh-garment-workers-factories-industrial-action">still below what is calculated</a> as a “living wage” for Bangladesh.</p> <p>In the aftermath of the strikes, more than 2,000 garment workers have been fired. Some factories have also filed criminal charges against the fired workers. Many of the workers are fearful that their names will now appear on a blacklist which will prevent them from ever being hired again in the apparel industry. In Bangladesh, the Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry  generates 80% of the country’s export income.</p> <p>At the same time, the Bangladesh government has arrested at least 24 union leaders and worker advocates, several of whom were not involved in the Ashulia strikes at all. All those detained are being held without bail. Two of the leaders have reportedly <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/news/2017/01/19/brands-must-intervene-to-win-release-of-imprisoned-labour-leaders-in-bangladesh">been beaten in prison</a> and one threatened with death in a “crossfire” incident.</p> <p>Another 50 union leaders, workers’ center staff, and factory-level labor rights activists have been forced into hiding to avoid government detention under the “Special Powers Act” or under warrants issued for their activities in earlier strikes and other non-violent protests. The <a href="http://www.laborrights.org">International Labor Rights Fund</a> in Washington, DC. has released photos and brief biographies of <a href="http://laborrights.org/get-know-workers">nine arrested union leaders</a>, many with young children at home.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.solidaritycenter.org">AFL-CIO Solidarity Center</a> in Dhaka released a report this month entitled an <a href="http://www.solidaritycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Bangladesh-Escalation-in-campaign-to-silence-garment-workers-2017-01-14.pdf">“Escalation in the campaign to silence garment workers.”</a>  It appears that the government and factory owners feel emboldened to go after worker leaders as several years have passed since the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Savar_building_collapse">Rana Plaza disaster</a> and the world’s attention has turned to other issues.</p> <p>The mass firings and prison detention of worker leaders threaten the fragile gains in workplace health and safety in the garment industry. Under three international OHS programs established following the Rana Plaza collapse, approximately 3,500 apparel factories producing for export have been inspected.  Mandatory corrective action plans have been developed for eliminating fire, electrical and building structural safety hazards under programs of the <a href="http://bangladeshaccord.org">Bangladesh Accord</a>, <a href="http://www.bangladeshworkersafety.org">Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety</a>, and <a href="http://ilo.org/dhaka/lang--en/index.htm">International Labor Organization</a>. But, the mass firings and prison detention of worker leaders threaten these important gains.</p> <p>Worker leaders are instrumental to ensuring that the hazard corrections are actually made and sustained over time. They are also essential to seeing that the legally-required factory-level, worker and management health and safety (H&amp;S) committees are established, receive the necessary training, and function to implement effective, ongoing OHS programs on site.</p> <p>Unfortunately, hundreds of inspected supplier factories are already way behind schedule in coming into compliance with their corrective action plans, in large measure because the brands have failed to meet their responsibility to facilitate or guarantee financing for hazard corrections. Nonetheless, the brands continue to source from these unsafe factories.</p> <p>With the chaos and insecurity caused by mass firings, detention of worker leaders, and intimidation by police and factory managers, the OHS programs in garment factories are threatened to be completely derailed. It will not be possible to complete the hazard corrections or establish effective H&amp;S committees without meaningful worker participation. That will not happen if workers in garment factories are fearful, intimidated and threatened.</p> <p>The <a href="https://cleanclothes.org">Clean Clothes Campaign</a> coordinated joint letters from two dozen labor and human rights organizations <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/news/2017/01/img/pdf/first-brand-letter-bangladesh-unrest/view">in December 2016</a> and <a href="http://laborrights.org/sites/default/files/publications/Intl_NGO-Letter_re_Bangladesh_1-18-2017_0.pdf">January 2017</a> to the major brands sourcing from Bangladesh. The letters insisted that these immensely wealthy corporations use their influence with factory owners and government officials to reverse course on the mass firings, indefinite detentions and blacklisting of workers who are concerned about working conditions.</p> <p>In response, the leadership of the Accord with 200+ brands <a href="http://bangladeshaccord.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-to-PM-Hasina-on-Response-to-Ashulia-Wage-Protests.pdf">wrote to the Bangladesh government</a>, as did <a href="https://about.hm.com/en/media/news/general-2017/h-m-group-sends-letter-to-the-government-of-bangladesh.html">20 international brands</a> in January 2017.  But the Clean Clothes Campaign and others have <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/news/2017/01/19/brands-must-intervene-to-win-release-of-imprisoned-labour-leaders-in-bangladesh">demanded greater efforts</a> to restore the workers’ basic rights, and to complete the promises made after the Rana Plaza collapse to protect worker safety.</p> <p>Labor rights organizations <a href="https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/dangerous-delays-on-worker-safety">have already detailed</a> how the brands have allowed safety hazards identified more than two years ago to remain uncorrected, while sourcing from low-wage factories in Bangladesh continues to increase.</p> <p>The centrality of the clothing brands’ purchasing policies for improving conditions in Bangladesh was highlighted in a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/business/bangladesh-protest-apparel-clothing.html?emc=edit_th_20170123&amp;nl=todaysheadlines&amp;nlid=72331289&amp;_r=0">January 22nd <em>New York Times</em> article</a>.</p> <blockquote><p>Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, a trade association that represents factory owners, said factories, too, had come under pressure: Costs have risen 17.5 percent annually for the last two years, he said, even as global clothing prices have decreased.</p> <p>Mr. Rahman added that while global retail brands had called on Bangladeshi factories to improve safety standards and wages, they had resisted paying higher prices to help compensate for the increased costs.</p></blockquote> <p>Brands and retailers typically <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/economy/business/what-does-that-14-shirt-really-cost/">keep 60% of the retail cost</a> of garments while paying supplier factories <u>less</u> per unit every year. In 2015, <a href="http://wwd.com/business-news/financial/top-25-us-companies-fashion-apparel-sector-10126827/">according to <em>Women’s Wear Daily</em></a>, Gap had gross profits on sales of $6.3 billion or a profit rate of 38%; Nike had profits of $12.4 billion or 44% of sales; VF Corp. had profits of $6 billion or 49% of sales; and PVH Corp. had profits of $4.3 billion or 52.5% of sales.</p> <p>The companies whose supplier factories have not only fired workers but also filed criminal charges against their workers include Abercrombie &amp; Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger (PHV Corp.), Gap, H&amp;M, North Face (VF Corp.), and Zara (Inditex Corp.).</p> <p>These clothing companies and retailers, among others, are the ones targeted in the <a href="https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/brands-respect-basic-rights">current petition drive</a>. As Scott Nova of the <a href="http://www.workersrights.org">Worker Rights Consortium</a> told the <em>Times</em>, At a certain point in time you have to wonder just how much [safety hazards, firings, arrests] the brands and retailers will tolerate. They can tell the factories to drop the charges.”</p> <p> </p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  Brown has visited Bangladesh five times since 2014 and helped establish the “OHS Initiative for Workers and Community” in Dhaka.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:27</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/afl-cio-solidarity-center" hreflang="en">AFL-CIO Solidarity Center</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/alliance-bangladesh-worker-safety" hreflang="en">Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/and-international-labor-organization" hreflang="en">and International Labor Organization</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/bangladesh-accord" hreflang="en">Bangladesh Accord</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/clean-clothes-campaign" hreflang="en">Clean Clothes Campaign</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/garment-workers" hreflang="en">garment workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/international-labor-rights-fund" hreflang="en">International Labor Rights Fund</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874240" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1485715323"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Garrett, thanks for keeping us informed. The current situation in Bangladesh is inadmissible.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874240&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="nJ_lkrX19AlV5nWNETWPnLWHOHqTHov6Wd4DMtjU40Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Jose A. Martinez (not verified)</span> on 29 Jan 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13077/feed#comment-1874240">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/01/26/government-industry-crackdown-in-bangladesh-threatens-health-clothing-brands-petitioned-to-respond%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Thu, 26 Jan 2017 16:27:09 +0000 garrettbrown 62779 at https://scienceblogs.com Hansae Vietnam: Case study of hazardous working conditions and the failure of corporate social responsibility audits to fix the hazards https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/12/13/hansae-vietnam-case-study-of-hazardous-working-conditions-and-the-failure-of-corporate-social-responsibility-audits-to-fix-the-hazards <span>Hansae Vietnam: Case study of hazardous working conditions and the failure of corporate social responsibility audits to fix the hazards</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Investigations by the <a href="http://www.workersrights.org">Workers Rights Consortium</a> (WRC) in October 2015 and October 2016, as well as <a href="http://www.fairlabor.org">Fair Labor Association</a> (FLA) investigations in July and October 2016, have revealed that a major Korean factory operator in Vietnam producing garments for a dozen international clothing brands runs a sweatshop operation.  Nike and other brands which have contracts with the firm have conducted audits over many years, but working conditions in the factory have failed to improve.</p> <p>In fact, in 2015 alone there were 26 separate corporate social responsibility (CSR) audits of the 12 factories in the Korean-run complex with 8,000 Vietnamese workers.  Whatever these non-public CSR audits identified as problems, dozens of violations of Vietnamese labor law and the brands’ corporate codes of conduct, as well as conditions producing persistent worker illnesses, have continued to exist.</p> <p>Twenty-five years after Nike became the poster child of sweatshop factories around the world, after the advent of a $80 billion global CSR industry, and after dozens of CSR audits at Hansae Vietnam, dozens of health and safety hazards were plainly visible in the factories in October 2016.</p> <p>Founded in December 1982, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/profiles/companies/105630:KS-hansae-co-ltd">Hansae Co. Ltd.</a>, has apparel manufacturing operations in China, Guatemala, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Saipan and Vietnam.  In 2015, Hansae had sales of more than $1.4 billion, an operating profit of $125 million, and sent 93% of the goods it produced to the United States.  The company has operated its facility in Vietnam since 2001, and Nike has sourced from the facility for more than 10 years.</p> <p>The WRC conducted the first investigation in October 2015.  They were forced to rely on off-site interviews, because Nike denied the WRC access to the facility located in the Cu Chi Industrial Park near Ho Chi Minh City.  The WRC issued its <a href="http://workersrights.org/Freports/WRC%20Assessment%20re%20Hansae%20Vietnam%205.6.2016.pdf">first report</a> in May 2016. The FLA was granted access to the facility in July 2016 and <a href="http://www.fairlabor.org/report/hansae-vietnam-second-investigation">issued a report</a>.</p> <p>After pressure from U.S. universities whose logo clothing Nike sources from Hansae Vietnam, Nike allowed a joint inspection by the WRC and FLA – for 48 hours only – in October 2016.  The WRC investigation team in October 2016 included two health and safety professionals (including this author) organized by the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network (MHSSN).</p> <p>On December 6<sup>th</sup>, the WRC and FLA issued second reports (<a href="http://www.workersrights.org/freports/WRC%20Assessment%20re%20Hansae%20Vietnam%2012.6.16.pdf">here</a> and <a href="http://www.fairlabor.org/sites/default/files/documents/reports/summary_report_hansae_vietnam_december_2016.pdf">here</a>) and the WRC report incorporated the <a href="http://mhssn.igc.org/Hansae%20Vietnam%20H&amp;S%20Audit%20Report%20-%20Final.pdf">MHSSN report</a>.  The reports document numerous violations of national Vietnamese law, corporate codes of conduct, and university labor standards, including:</p> <ul><li>Extensive wage theft;</li> <li>Illegal recruitment fees, extorted from workers by managers;</li> <li>Chronic verbal abuse and incidents of physical harassment of workers;</li> <li>Pregnancy discrimination;</li> <li>Forced overtime;</li> <li>Illegal restrictions on workers’ access to toilets;</li> <li>Illegal denial of sick leave;</li> <li>Putting factory managers in leadership positions on the union executive board;</li> <li>Dozens of health and safety violations from factory temperatures in excess of the national limit of 90 degrees, unsafe spraying of cleaning solvents, and persistent incidents of workers collapsing at their work stations due to heat and overwork.</li> </ul><p>It is a sad commentary, 25 years down the road, that the Hansae factory complex is not that different from thousands of other garment factories in Asia and around the world.  Conditions in Hansae’s factory in Vietnam are no doubt similar to conditions in Hansae’s plants in China, Guatemala, Indonesia, Nicaragua and Saipan.  The Hansae factories are not likely to be the worst in the industry, a dubious distincion to be sure.</p> <p>But this set of factories illustrate how ineffective the CSR monitoring, corporate codes of conduct and industry “social audits” are in protecting the rights, health and safety of millions of workers in global supply chains.</p> <p>Nike conducted a decade’s worth of audits at Hansae Vietnam, but none of the problems that were plainly visible in October 2016 showed up in Nike’s <a href="http://news.nike.com/news/nike-s-sustainability-report-shows-company-reducing-environmental-impact-while-continuing-to-grow">glossy CSR reports</a> on its supply chain.  Despite being a self-proclaimed leader in CSR, Nike’s 25 years in the public eye did not lead to safe and lawful conditions in the Hansae Vietnam complex.</p> <p>But Nike is not alone in this.  During 2015, major clothing brands and retailers – including Amazon, The Children’s Place, Gap, Hanes, J-Crew, JC Penny, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Pink, Polo, Target, Walmart and Zara  – conducted two dozen audits at Hansae Vietnam.  Many of these audits were actually performed by leading CSR monitoring firms, including Bureau Veritas, Elevate, Li &amp; Fung, SGS, and UL as well as the International Labor Organization’s Better Work program.</p> <p>Since none of these CSR audits are public, no one knows what problems, if any, were identified, and what corrections, if any, were made.  The CSR world of secret audits and secret corrections smoothly meshes with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement between brands (who do not want to know about problems that may be costly to fix) and CSR monitors (who do not want to lose clients with relentlessly negative audit reports).</p> <p>What <u>is</u> known is that the 26 separate audits by leading brands and CSR monitoring companies throughout 2015 did not protect workers from illegal labor practices and plainly visible health and safety hazards that the WRC and FLA investigations found on site in October 2016.</p> <p>In-house industry monitoring and “independent” audits by for-profit CSR companies have not only failed garment workers in Vietnam.</p> <p>At the Apple supplier Foxconn in China, electronics workers were the subject of a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-ipad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html"><em>New York Times</em> expose</a> in January 2012 that documented conditions so harsh that more than a dozen young workers committed suicide by throwing themselves off the top of tall dormitory buildings.</p> <p>Apple quickly joined the FLA and an audit of two Foxconn factories discovered that these plants had been awarded an “OSHMS 18000” certification for its occupational health and safety (OHS) program – reportedly by CSR company SGS – when the <a href="http://www.fairlabor.org/sites/default/files/documents/reports/appendix_1.1_sci_findings_guanlan.pdf.pdf">two plants had no OHS program</a> in place and basic activities like hazard identification and correction, training and accident investigations simply were not occurring.</p> <p>Yet a leading CSR firm awarded these plants an OHS certification.</p> <p>In Pakistan in September 2012, the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire with 25% of the entire workforce – 289 people – <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/world/asia/hundreds-die-in-factory-fires-in-pakistan.html">being burned to death</a> just three weeks after the factory was awarded a “SA 8000” certification as a CSR compliant plant.  The Social Accounting International organization, which developed its proprietary SA 8000 certification, does not actually issue the certificate – they subcontract that work out to companies they train, and the subcontractor in this case <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/world/asia/pakistan-factory-fire-shows-flaws-in-monitoring.html">contracted the inspection out yet again</a> to a local Pakistani CSR firm.</p> <p>The global CSR industry, ostensibly established to counter the adverse effects of outsourcing and subcontracting, now subcontracts out its own inspections and certification verification.</p> <p>In Bangladesh, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Savar_building_collapse">Rana Plaza building collapsed</a> in April 2013 killing more than 1,130 garment workers in single moment.  The building had been inspected twice by Bureau Veritas (BV) while producing for Canada’s Loblaws company (“Joe Fresh” brand), and both are <a href="http://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/class-action-suit-seeks-2-billion-from-loblaw-joe-fresh-over-2013-bangladesh-garment-factory-collapse">now being sued in Canadian courts</a> by four survivors.  Building structural safety issues were never evaluated at Rana Plaza by BV, despite the well-known history of other building collapses in the country.</p> <p>BV’s response to the lawsuit is that they were never asked by Loblaws to assess building safety issues, and they only do what their clients ask them to do.  This is the very illustration of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach.</p> <p>In fact, all the factories where major industrial disasters have occurred – deadly fires, building collapses, epidemics of occupational diseases – have been repeatedly audited by the brands themselves or contracted CSR monitors for <u>years</u> before the disasters strike.  The convenient, selective blindness of the industry and its CSR contractors has been documented in reports by organizations like the Clean Clothes Campaign (<a href="https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/fatal-fashion.pdf">“Fatal Fashion”</a>), International Labor Rights Forum (<a href="http://laborrights.org/sites/default/files/publications-and-resources/DeadlySecrets.pdf">“Deadly Secrets”</a>), and the AFL-CIO (“<a href="http://www.aflcio.org/content/download/77061/1902391/CSReport.pdf">Responsibility Outsourced</a>”).</p> <p>The Hansae Vietnam factory has become the latest textbook example of how the clothing brands and their CSR programs have failed to protect workers in global supply chains.  The effort to fix all the problems in this factory is important, and it is a lens to view how to <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/09/21/global-supply-chains-still-full-of-sweatshops/">fix the problems in global supply chains</a> altogether.</p> <p>This involves changing the dominant “sweatshop business model” in global supply chains; ending reliance on ineffective and corrupted CSR monitoring; and creating and sustaining genuine worker participation in developing and implementing factory health and safety programs and <a href="http://mhssn.igc.org/NewSolutions-2009_GBrown.pdf">verification that labor laws are obeyed</a>.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam.</em></p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Tue, 12/13/2016 - 03:00</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/child-labor" hreflang="en">child labor</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/corporate-social-responsibility" hreflang="en">corporate social responsibility</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/fair-labor-association" hreflang="en">Fair Labor Association</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/hansae-vietman" hreflang="en">Hansae Vietman</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/nike" hreflang="en">nike</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workers-rights-consortium" hreflang="en">Workers Rights Consortium</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2016/12/13/hansae-vietnam-case-study-of-hazardous-working-conditions-and-the-failure-of-corporate-social-responsibility-audits-to-fix-the-hazards%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 13 Dec 2016 08:00:51 +0000 garrettbrown 62752 at https://scienceblogs.com Free on-line course on “decent work in global supply chains” offered by the Global Labour University https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/11/29/free-on-line-course-on-decent-work-in-global-supply-chains-offered-by-the-global-labour-university <span>Free on-line course on “decent work in global supply chains” offered by the Global Labour University</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A free, two-month course on global supply chains is being offered on-line by the Global Labour University starting on January 12, 2017.  The course is being taught in English by Penn State University Professor Mark Anner, one the leading labor-oriented researchers on the global economy. There's a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq_uCqHomM0">video trailer for the course</a> and enrollment for the course is <a href="https://iversity.org/en/courses/decent-work-in-global-supply-chains">now open</a>.</p> <p>The course brochure has the following description of the course:</p> <blockquote><p>“Global Supply Chains, controlled by transnational corporations, determine the ‘rules of the game’ in today’s global economy. Decent Work gaps are widespread in these often highly profitable production networks.</p> <p>“This multi-disciplinary online course is led by Prof Mark Anner who is one of the most knowledgeable researchers on labour conditions in the global garment industry. It discusses the challenges and chances of achieving rights at work and better working conditions in global supply chains, combining expertise from the world of work with cutting-edge academic research.</p> <p>“Looking at the economic, the governance and the labour rights dimension of supply chains, this online course is designed to develop both knowledge and practical skills for organizing workers in global supply chains and engaging in policy processes to advance decent work in global supply chains.”</p></blockquote> <p>The schedule of the course, starting on Thursday, January 12, 2017, includes:</p> <table><tbody><tr><td>Week 1</td> <td>Introduction to global supply chains</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 2</td> <td>The regulatory framework on trade, investment and taxation</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 3</td> <td>Global supply chains and development</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 4</td> <td>Decent work gaps in global supply chains</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 5</td> <td>Key elements of the existing governance framework</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 6</td> <td>Negotiated governance – strategies on the company and industry level</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 7</td> <td>Regulating global supply chains – strategies on the political and legal level</td> </tr><tr><td>Week 8</td> <td>Campaigning to win – strategies and tools</td> </tr></tbody></table><p>The Global Labour University is a network of trade unions, universities and the ILO (International Labor Organization) to deliver high-level qualification programs.  It offers Masters Courses in five different countries on trade unions, sustainable development, social justice, international labor standards, multinational companies, economic policies and global institutions and promotes research cooperation on global labor issues.</p> <p>The GLU is a new approach to increase the intellectual and strategic capacity of workers’ organizations and to establish stronger working relationships between trade unions, the ILO, and the scientific community.</p> <p>The GLU’s partner network consists of universities in five countries (Brazil, Germany, India, South Africa, and the United States), national and international trade unions, and non-governmental organizations.  Penn State’s Center for Global Workers’ Rights, directed by Professor Anner, is the US affiliate of the GLU.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Tue, 11/29/2016 - 09:58</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/garment-industry" hreflang="en">Garment industry</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/international-clothing-retailers" hreflang="en">international clothing retailers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mark-anner" hreflang="en">Mark Anner</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2016/11/29/free-on-line-course-on-decent-work-in-global-supply-chains-offered-by-the-global-labour-university%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:58:19 +0000 garrettbrown 62742 at https://scienceblogs.com Even after the Rana Plaza disaster it is hard to get international clothing brands to do the right thing https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/11/29/even-after-the-rana-plaza-disaster-it-is-hard-to-get-international-clothing-brands-to-do-the-right-thing <span>Even after the Rana Plaza disaster it is hard to get international clothing brands to do the right thing</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A new report by four leading workers’ rights group shows just how hard it is to get international clothing brands to fix problems in their global supply chains despite the fact that 1,100 workers were killed in an instant in an unsafe garment factory in Bangladesh.</p> <p>Three and a half years after the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, five major clothing brands – Walmart, Gap, VF, Target and Hudson’s Bay – were found to have continuing hazards and dangerous delays in fixing them.  What’s worse is that one of the three international inspection programs in Bangladesh – the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety – has downplayed the problems by moving the due date for hazard correction to <u>July 2018</u> and then claiming hazardous factories are “on track” to be safe by then.</p> <p>“<a href="https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/dangerous-delays-on-worker-safety">Dangerous Delays on Worker Safety</a>” was issued in November by the International Labor Rights Forum, Workers Rights Consortium, Clean Clothes Campaign and Maquila Solidarity Network.  The response of the Alliance <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/21/bangladesh-garment-factories-safety-alliance-rana-plaza-report?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other">was reported</a> in <em>The Guardian</em> (UK) newspaper.</p> <p>The report looked at 175 garment factories in Bangladesh that are part of international auditing programs – The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance are the two private sector initiatives, while the International Labor Organization is working with the national Bangladesh government.  The report found that of this sample of 175 factory buildings, 47% have major, uncorrected structural problems; 62% lack viable fire exits, and 62% do not have a properly functioning fire alarm system.</p> <p>Of these factories, 102 plants are producing for Walmart; 37 factories are producing for the Gap; 36 factories are producing for VF Corporation (a holding company which owns multiple brands); 22 factories are producing for Target; and 6 factories are producing for the Hudson Bay company.</p> <p>The 12-page report points out that:</p> <blockquote><p>Any of the hazards in these categories could be the cause of injury or death to workers. Structural problems that factories in the sample have failed to address including loads in multi-story factories heavier than the floors can reliably bear, cracks in beams holding up the floors, over-stressed structural columns, and similar deficiencies. Fire exit deficiencies include stairwells discharging inside buildings rather than leading outside to safety, stairwells lacking fire-rated doors, exit routes compromised by unsealed openings that would allow smoke to enter during a fire, and related issues. Problems with fire alarm systems involved delayed installation of a system or the installation of a system that does not meet standards.</p></blockquote> <p>Most of these factories (96% according to the report) were initially inspected more than two years ago, and have approximately 280,000 garment workers in buildings that are unsafe.</p> <p>These 175 Alliance-covered factories also produce for brands that are covered by the Accord, and this overlap allow researchers to use Accord data to evaluate the status of these dual-covered factories.  At the same time, the Accord reports that 1,400 factories, or 85% of the factories it covers (including most in the 175-factory sample) are “behind schedule” in making repairs of hazards that were identified years ago.</p> <p>The Accord, to its credit, at least plainly states that the original due dates for hazard corrections have been missed (“behind schedule”), and it provides detailed reports on its website on the status of each identified hazard in inspected factories.  The Alliance, on the other hand, does not provide public factory-by-factory progress reports.</p> <p>Moreover, sometime this year, the Alliance decided to push the goalposts back for hazard corrections from the original dates (immediately for severe hazards to no more than several months for the most complex correction) to July 2018 when the Alliance will “sunset” or go out of existence.  In the meantime, factories that should have corrected hazards in 2015, but failed to do so, are now considered to be “on track” by the Alliance, which says it is “confident” that the hazards will be addressed 19 months from now, five years after the Alliance began.</p> <p>The 26 brands that make up the Alliance are all American or Canadian clothing companies.</p> <p><strong>Why the delays that threaten so many workers?</strong></p> <p>The underlying reasons why hazard correction have not occurred on schedule include the failure of the international clothing brands to meet their promises and obligations to provide financial resources to their suppliers to fix unsafe factories; the failure of the international funding mechanism to reach factory owners who need loans; and the “itchy feet” of international brands to continue roaming the world for new production locations.</p> <p>Even under the terms of Accord, which requires signatory brands to ensure that owners of supplier factories have the financial resources required to correct hazards, international clothing companies have failed to provide the funds needed for hazard correction.  The Alliance signatory brands do not have any requirement to assist their suppliers with necessary funds.</p> <p>In fact, today – three years after Rana Plaza – the brands are paying their suppliers in Bangladesh <u>less</u> per-unit-produced than they paid them at the time of the disaster.</p> <p>Moreover, few clothing brands have offered long-term orders to their suppliers, so that factory owners will feel able to repay large bank loans with ongoing orders.  The “sweatshop business model” of short-term contracts at the lowest possible price remains in place and ever-dominant.</p> <p>An international loan fund organized by the International Labor Organization and the World Bank has failed to provide the needed funding as well, according to a <a href="http://www.ilo.org/dhaka/Whatwedo/Publications/WCMS_492345/lang--en/index.htm">recent World Bank study</a>.</p> <p>Among the reasons for this failure are rampant corruption in the Bangladesh banking sector when funds they receive at 3-4% interest from the World Bank are offered to local factory owners at 10% or higher interest rates – and only offered to existing clients.</p> <p>The third reason for delays in hazard correction is another aspect of the global supply chain sweatshop business model: the relentless search by transnational corporations to find the lowest production costs and highest profit rates, no matter the social and environmental impacts on the workers and countries involved.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Rubana Huq, Managing Director of the Mohammadi Group, comprising of 8 garment factories in Bangladesh, spoke at the Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.  Ms. Huq reported that she has already been approached by clothing brands to continue being a supplier – but <u>not</u> with factories in Bangladesh, the brands wanted her company to set up and manage factories in East Africa where wages and compliance costs are even lower than Bangladesh.</p> <p><strong>How progress is made</strong></p> <p>It was the world-wide outcry and outrage following the industrial homicide of 1,100 people at Rana Plaza that forced 215+ international clothing brands to sign onto the Accord, and motivated the 26 US/Canadian brands to set up the competing Alliance, which has been forced to match the Accord in a “me-too” arrangement in many – but not all – aspects of hazard identification, hazard correction, worker participation and OHS and management assistance to factory owners.</p> <p>Progress has been registered, and it should be appreciated.  More than 3,700 garment factories in Bangladesh producing for the international apparel market have had competent safety inspections and the results publicly posted on the internet. Many of the 150,000 identified hazards have been eliminated, and those that have not been fixed are now the source of a new public outcry.</p> <p>This focus on worker health and safety, led by the Accord, is unprecedented for any global supply chain, in any country, and in any product sector. The example of a binding agreement between brands and worker representatives; independent, competent inspections; public reporting of the results; mandatory hazard correction; and worker participation and OHS training is one that could and should be replicated elsewhere in the global economy.</p> <p>There is, of course, work to do.  As the report notes:</p> <blockquote><p>This partial progress is positive, because it makes factories at least somewhat safer. However, these brands did not promise in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse to make their supplier factories <u>somewhat safer</u>; they promised to make them <u>safe</u> – and that standard has been very clearly defined in time-bound action plans for each factory. (Emphasis in original.)</p></blockquote> <p>Part of the work needed to improve working conditions in Bangladesh is to keep holding the brands’ feet to the fire to meet the promises they made to garment workers in Bangladesh.  Part of the work needed is to demand a change of the dominant sweatshop business model of global supply chains.  Part of the work needed is replace the ineffective and corrupted “corporate social responsibility” monitoring with independent, competent auditing that is publicly reported and carries mandatory hazard corrections and involves meaningful worker participation.</p> <p>A tall order, but the only way to effectively protect garment workers in Bangladesh, or in East Africa, or in New York City and Los Angeles.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993.  He has made five trips to Bangladesh to assist with worker safety projects since 2014.</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Tue, 11/29/2016 - 09:50</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/clothing-brands" hreflang="en">clothing brands</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/garment-workers" hreflang="en">garment workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/intl-labor-rights-forum" hreflang="en">Int&#039;l Labor Rights Forum</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/rana-plaza" hreflang="en">Rana Plaza</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2016/11/29/even-after-the-rana-plaza-disaster-it-is-hard-to-get-international-clothing-brands-to-do-the-right-thing%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:50:28 +0000 garrettbrown 62741 at https://scienceblogs.com Global supply chains still full of sweatshops https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/09/21/global-supply-chains-still-full-of-sweatshops <span>Global supply chains still full of sweatshops</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In the early 1990s, sports apparel giant Nike became the “poster child” for sweatshops in its global supply chain – child labor, forced labor (mandatory overtime), wage theft, confiscation of migrant workers’ passports, sexual harassment of women workers, and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.</p> <p>Jump ahead 25 years, vast global supply chains with multiple tiers of international “brands,” contracted supplier factories, and numerous sub-contractors are now the norm for consumer goods sectors such as electronics, toys, apparel, home furnishings, food like fish and chocolate, sports shoes and equipment.  The corporate response to the anti-sweatshop campaigns that started with Nike has been the development of “corporate social responsibility” programs.  The CSR industry now involves thousands of corporate codes of conduct, tens of thousands of “third-party audits” of supply chain factories, and hundreds of annual conferences, books, magazines and web sites, and dozens of CSR consulting firms worldwide.  The global <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility">CSR industry</a> is now a $80 billion a year industry.</p> <p>So does this mean that sweatshops are now a thing of the past?  Unfortunately, no.  Every global supply chain is still full of sweatshops – <a href="https://www.aiha.org/government-affairs/WhitePapers/whitepaper01_SweatshopsGlobalEconomy.pdf">defined as</a> a workplace with multiple violations of labor and environmental laws, including regulations on wages and hours, workers compensation, harassment and discrimination, workplace health and safety, and environmental protection.  There have been some improvements over the last 25 years, but scratch the bright, shiny surface of the corporate CSR programs and glossy reports in any supply chain, and you will find they are still full of sweatshops.</p> <p>How do we know this is the case?  There are four principal sources of information regarding global sweatshops:</p> <ul><li>News media reports about specific factories, companies or industries;</li> <li>Reports from non-governmental organizations or NGOs dedicated to labor rights, women’s rights, child labor and anti-trafficking campaigns;</li> <li>Reports by “multi-stakeholder initiatives” or MSIs that include companies, government agencies and non-governmental organizations; and</li> <li>Reports from the corporate CSR departments themselves.</li> </ul><p>Today there is such a river of information on global sweatshops that it is hard to keep up, even for only one company or industry.  Perhaps the easiest, one-stop-shopping way to keep track of reports on sweatshops is the Business &amp; <a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org">Human Rights Resource Centre</a>, an independent, UK-based center that tracks over 6,000 companies in over 180 countries.</p> <p>Not only does the site publicize the score of new reports and articles that come out weekly, but it contacts the companies or “brands” involved for their explanation or response.  One simple way to stay on top of sweatshops is the Centre’s <a href="https://business-humanrights.org/en/weekly-update-sign-up">weekly update</a> which provides links to the latest reports and corporate responses.</p> <p>Otherwise keeping up with sweatshops involves keeping track of these four major sources of information:</p> <p><strong>News media articles</strong>:  These are published by a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and web sites, often related to specific events such as the annual reports on the global toy industry (80% of toys now made in China) at Christmas. An example of these articles is <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_grind/2016/08/nike_s_supply_chain_doesn_t_live_up_to_the_ideals_of_its_girl_effect_campaign.html">Maria Hengeveld’s report</a> on Nike’s factories in Vietnam which appears on the Slate website.  The headline of Hengeveld’s article is</p> <blockquote><p>“Nike boasts of empowering women around the world; While the young women who make its products in Vietnam are intimidated, belittled and underpaid.”</p></blockquote> <p><strong>Non-governmental organizations</strong>:  Over the last two decades, NGOs have produced a steady stream of reports on specific companies and countries which offer a continuous portrait of sweatshop conditions.  Among the many international and national organizations that regularly produce well-researched reports are the <a href="https://cleanclothes.org">Clean Clothes Campaign</a>; <a href="http://goodelectronics.org">Good Electronics</a>; <a href="http://chinalaborwatch.org/home.aspx">China Labour Watch</a>; <a href="http://laborrights.org">International Labor Rights Forum</a>; <a href="http://sacom.hk">SACOM – Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour</a>; <a href="http://www.workersrights.org">Workers Rights Consortium</a>; <a href="http://www.amrc.org.hk">Asia Monitor Resource Centre</a>; and <a href="http://www.anroev.org">ANROEV - Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims</a>.</p> <p>Recent reports from these NGOs include the following:</p> <ul><li><a href="http://goodelectronics.org/publications-en/Publication_4324/">“The Poisonous Pearl: Occupational chemical poisoning in the electronics industry in the Pearl River Delta,”</a> Good Electronics, September 2016.</li> </ul><ul><li><a href="http://labourbehindthelabel.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/BD_REPORT_labour_on_a_shoestring.pdf">“Labour on a shoe string,”</a> report on Eastern Europe’s shoe factories producing for international brands, Clean Clothes Campaign, June 2016.</li> </ul><ul><li><a href="http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Full-report.pdf">“Reality behind brands’ CSR hypocrisy: An Investigative report on China suppliers of Zara, H&amp;M and Gap,” </a>SACOM – Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, August 2016:</li> </ul><ul><li><a href="http://goodelectronics.org/news-en/beyond-voluntary-codes-and-audits">“Beyond voluntary codes and audits: A challenge for the electronic industry; Seventh report on working conditions in the Mexican electronics industry,”</a> CEREAL – Center for Reflection and Action on Labour Issues, July 2016.</li> </ul><p><strong>Multi Stakeholder Initiatives</strong>:  MSIs arose in the 1990s after the reports of self-investigation by corporations were found to be self-serving.  At that point, government agencies and non-governmental organizations were incorporated into the MSIs to give the appearance of independence.  The brands, however, remain very influential members of the MSIs.  Many labor rights and community organizations consider MSIs to be still dominated by the companies involved and their investigations to be inadequate.  Nonetheless, MSIs such as the <a href="http://www.fairlabor.org">Fair Labor Association</a> in the US and the <a href="http://www.ethicaltrade.org">Ethical Trading Initiative</a> in the UK have produced reports that document sweatshop conditions in global supply chains. An example of the MSI reports is the <a href="http://www.fairlabor.org/report/foxconn-investigation-report">FLA’s 2012 investigation</a> of Apple’s supplier factories operated by Foxconn in China.</p> <p><strong>Corporate CSR Reports</strong>: Most corporations with global supply chains now issue yearly or biannual reports from their CSR departments on conditions in their supplier factories.  These slick reports uniformly “accentuate the positive” in the company’s supply chain, but a close reading of the CSR reports provides confirmation from the corporations themselves that a significant number of their supplier factories meet the definition of sweatshop and that sweatshop practices continue to flourish among their suppliers.  “Admissions against interest” is the legal terminology for the nuggets of information provided by the corporations themselves about working conditions in their own supply chain.</p> <p>Recent examples where close examination of corporate CSR reports confirms sweatshops in the supply chain come <a href="http://about.nike.com/pages/our-ambition">from Nike</a> and <a href="http://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/progress-report/">Apple</a>.</p> <p>Taken as a whole, these four sources of information paint a picture of global supply chains that documents while <em>not</em> <em>every</em> factory is a sweatshop, there are tens of thousands of sweatshop factories in supply chains around the world.</p> <p>There are three reasons for the continuing scourge of global sweatshops:</p> <p><strong>First</strong> is the “sweatshop business model” that is dominant in every supply chain.  This model includes the “iron triangle” of sourcing which prioritizes the lowest possible cost, highest possible quality, and fastest possible delivery time above all other considerations.  At the same time there is a “race to bottom” in payments to supplier factories where the brands pay less every year for the same or higher quality goods, depriving supplier factories of the resources required to be anything other than a sweatshop.</p> <p><strong>Second</strong> is the fact that CSR monitoring has been completely ineffective in identifying and correcting illegal and unsafe conditions in supply chains.  The CSR audits are conducted by for-profit CSR consulting firms that have intrinsic conflict of interests, often unqualified auditors (especially in occupational health and safety), and frank corruption.  Ironically, the CSR industry itself is now contracting out factory inspections to local sub-contractors which have even greater conflicts of interest, lack of qualifications, and problems with corruption.</p> <p><strong>Third</strong> is the near-complete lack of genuine, meaningful participation by workers in developing, implementing and verifying the effectiveness of CSR programs at the factory level, including occupational health and safety programs.  Without the direct participation of workers, especially in the giant supplier factories in China which can have 30,000 or 40,000 workers in a single factory complex, it is not possible to establish programs that will actually create safe workplaces where labor laws and workers’ rights are respected.</p> <p>All these issues have been and are examined in many of the news articles and NGO reports.  The phrase “worker empowerment” has now become part of the standard “buzz words” of corporate CSR programs.  Nonetheless, <u>genuine</u> worker participation <a href="http://mhssn.igc.org/PCIH08_GBrown.pdf">remains the key</a> and missing element for making real progress in ending sweatshops in global supply chains.</p> <p>In the meantime, relentless pressure from workers, consumers, stakeholders and governments is required to improve working conditions that are illegal, immoral and just plain unacceptable.  Part of this process is staying abreast of the river of continuing reports and articles on supply chain factory conditions, and to draw lessons on what’s needed to bring an end to global sweatshops.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993.</em></p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Wed, 09/21/2016 - 06:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/working-hours" hreflang="en">working hours</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/apple" hreflang="en">apple</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/global-supply-chain" hreflang="en">Global supply chain</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/nike" hreflang="en">nike</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/sweatshops" hreflang="en">sweatshops</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874112" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1485722229"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Multinational corporations should pay a living wage according to the economy of the host country. Studies have shown that doubling workers pay would only increase the consumer cost of an item by 1.8%.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874112&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="xW-eYBpS5TaWPvCA_h4gojFnIvl_T1M2n9ju36sSzY8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Chuck Coleman (not verified)</span> on 29 Jan 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13077/feed#comment-1874112">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2016/09/21/global-supply-chains-still-full-of-sweatshops%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 10:09:10 +0000 garrettbrown 62696 at https://scienceblogs.com