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Relevant Policy Initiatives

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

Rana Plaza Arrangement

Garment Industries Transparency Initiative

German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Dutch IRBC Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile

Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT)

Modern Slavery Act (UK)

Modern Slavery Act (Australia)

Loi de Vigilance (France)

EU flagship initiative on the garment sector

Relevant Fairtrade Initiatives

Ethical Trading Initiative

Fairtrade Deutschland

Relevant Research Centers

Interdisciplinary Commodity Studies (ICS) at the Institute for Social and Economic History at JKU Linz

Center for Global Workers Rights (CGWR)

Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD)

NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights

Relevant Reports

ILO (2019): An Analysis of Multiparty Bargaining Models for Global Supply Chains This report written by Jeremy Blasi and Jennifer Bair examines the role of substantive, enforceable agreements between lead firms and unions or worker-based organizations as an approach of regulating labor standards in global supply chains. 

International Labor Rights Forum (2019): Future of Fashion: Worker-Led Strategies for Corporate Accountability in the Global Apparel Industry The report explores the successes and challenges of three examples of worker-led approaches for corproate accountability, so-called enforcable brand agreements (EBAs), in the global apparel industry. It examines the context in which the EBAs were developed and how they address the deficiencies in the traditional business-led approach of corporate social responsibililty (CSR). It then outlines essential elements for identifying what a worker-centered, worker-driven model for advancing workers’ rights in the apparel supply chain should include. Finally, it lays out a  road map for transforming the global apparel industry through greater uptake of worker-led initiatives and other actions necessary to strengthen worker rights in the global apparel industry.

Ethical Trading Initiative (2019): Business Models and Labour Standards: Making the Connection The report commissioned by the ETI and conducted by Juliane Reinecke, Jimmy Donaghey, Nancy Bocken, and Lucas Lauriano looks at how business models create downward pressures on labour standards and argues that until such models are changed the problems with the CSR approach will persist. The report argues that while not all businesses will or can change their corporate form, changes to improve standards can be introduced in various parts of the business model. Suggestions for business model adaptation, business model redesign and experimentation in existing business are made by the authors.

Oxfam Australia (2019): Made in Poverty - The True Price of Fashion Based on interviews with workers in Bangladesh and Vietnam, this reports sheds light on the widespread payment of pittance wages in the garment sector, which is trapping workers and their families in a cycle of poverty. The focuses on Australian brands and is the first in-depth investigation of its kind into the supply chains of large Australian brands.

OECD (2018): OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector The OECD Due Diligence Guidelines provide important information for enterprises on how to implement human rights due diligence processes contained in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as well as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It thereby also contributes to providing a more concise understanding of what the adherence to human rights implies, offering concrete implementation strategies and measures.  

Center for Global Workers’ Rights (CGWR) Researach Report (2018): Binding Power: The Sourcing Squeeze, Workers’ Rights, and Building Safety in Bangladesh Since Rana Plaza The CGWR reviews the years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and asks whether the industry has seen meaningful gains for workers. It describes that gains have been achieved with regards to building safety, mainly thanks to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety ('Accord'). The report however also describes that gains have been very limited in other areas, such as wages, overtime hours, and work intensity, with the exception of associational rights where slight improvements can be witnessed with regards to increases in the number of recognized unions. A detailed analysis of the Accord's work over the last five years is provided.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (2018): Ongoing Upgradation in RMG Enterprises: Preliminary Results from a Survey The CPD has published a report on economic and social upgrading in ready made garment factories in Bangladesh. The study is based on a worker survery with workers from more than 200 factories. It reports on the progress that has been made in terms of economic upgrading indices such as process, product, and functional upgrading as well as social upgrading indices such as employment security, rights, standard and non-discrimination as well as gender related indices related to gender rights and non-discrimination. 

ILO Report (2017): Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector Programme With this report the International Labor Organization (ILO) gives an overview over the many responses to the Rana Plaza factory collapse, presenting the activities and results of the first phase of ILO's Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector Programme (2013-2017) funded by Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This report provides insights into activites and programs, cooperation partners, recent developments in the industry as well as the many steps that have already been taken and those that still need to be taken.

NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights (2017): Research Brief on Bangladesh Factory Safety The NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights takes a critical look at what the Accord and Alliance programs have achieved to date - in terms of factory inspections, completion of remediation plans, training programs, and complaint mechanisms. The report also states what remains to be done to remedy the vast safety challenges in most of the thousands of factories producing for export in Bangladesh.

Fair Wear Foundation (2017): Research Agenda For the past fifteen years, Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) has evaluated and reported on the human rights compliance efforts of its member brands. In that time, FWF has learned a great deal about the complexities and challenges of improving working conditions in apparel supply chains, and has increasingly focused on developing new solutions to common problems, and sharing the lessons learned. The FWF Research Agenda (Lead author: Martin Curley, Senior Policy & Research Officer) now gives an outlook on what FWF sees as the major questions facing both FWF and the overall garment industry and its stakeholders.

Better Work (2016): Progress and potential - Findings from an independent impact assessment The Better Work programme, a joint initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has been working since 2007 to improve working conditions and promote competitiveness in global garment supply chains. To further understand the impact of its work, Better Work commissioned Tufts University to conduct an independent impact assessment. Since the programme’s inception, Tufts’ interdisciplinary research team has gathered and analysed nearly 15,000 survey responses from garment workers and 2,000 responses from factory managers in Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua and Vietnam. The analysis of these responses represents an in-depth evaluation of Better Work’s effectiveness in changing workers’ lives and boosting factory competitiveness.

Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) (2016): Ethical Audits and the Supply Chains of Global Corporations SPERI is the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Sheffield. The reports takes a closer look at the many key questions and serious concerns that hang over the ethical audit regime, such as are audits effective in identifying non-compliance and driving up standards, what does the audit regime mean for governments and NGOs, where does power lie within the audit regime and, ultimately, in whose interest is the ethical audit regime working? The report also looks at the rise of ethical audits, considres the effectiveness of audits, and assesses the impact of the audit regime on global corporate governance.

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) (2016): Frontlines Report - Scandal: Inside the global supply chains of 50 top companies The report of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) looks at the business models of multinational corporations and their effects on workers in global supply chains. It tackles important questions on the relationship of today's business models with low wages, violations of rights, and unsafe workplaces. It provides detailed info on companies, such as H&M and Gap, provides evidence of forced labour in global supply chains and portrays insights from workers in Cambodia. It supports its insights with numbers and graphics.

Center for Global Workers Rights (2016): The Bulk of the Iceberg: A Critique of the Stern Center’s Report on Worker Safety in Bangladesh Mark Anner and Jennifer Bair challenge the findings of the 2015 NYU Stern Center's Report on Worker Safety in Bangladesh. They report that fare more garment workers in Bangladesh are covered by the Accord and the Alliance than reported by the Stern Center. Furthermore, they report that the Stern Center overestimated the number of formal factories and the size of the workforce due to a series of errors in data collection and analysis.

NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights (2015): Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Bangladesh’s Forgotten Apparel Workers Sarah Labowitz and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly from the Stern Center report the results of a large-scale data analysis of factory data, collected and analyzed from publicly available sources and a field survey conducted in June 2015. The Center’s analysis sheds light on indirect suppliers in particular. Among others it reports on the number of direct and indirect suppliers operating in the garment export market, the percentage of informal subcontracters, as well as the number of factories covered by the Accord and Alliance. With regards to the Accord and the Alliance the report states that only a small of workers are covered by these initiatives and that only few of the identified safety issues have been fixed.

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) (2014): Report Living Wages in Asia The Clean Clothes Campaign is a global alliance dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the global garment and sportswear industries. This report looks at the low wages being paid across six of the major garment producing countries in Asia – Cambodia, China, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. It also looks at the responsibilities of both state and global apparel brands and their suppliers in addressing poverty wages and the steps that must be taken immediately if the garment industry is to provide a decent life for those working within it.

NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights (2014): Business as Usual is Not an Option - Supply Chains and Sourcing after Rana Plaza The Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University Stern School of Business organizes dialogues among stakeholders from different fields, empowers companies and other stakeholders to address human rights challenges, and provides insights into issues and policy debates around business and human rights topics. The report addresses the garment business in Bangladesh, developing a clearer understanding of the business practices that represent significant risks to factory safety and workers’ rights. It pays attention to public and private governance as well as the infrastructure of the Bangladeshi garment industry.

International Labour Organization (ILO), International Institute for Labour Studies (IILS) (2013): Banlgadesh - Seeking better conditions for better socioeconomic outcomes The International Institute for Labour Studies (IILS) is an autonomous facility of the International Labour Organization (ILO), established in 1960, to further promote policy research, policy debate and the sharing of knowledge on emerging labour and social issues of concern to the ILO and its constituents — government, business and labour. The report gives detailed information on the gament industry of Bangladesh, including on the economic performance and development, the status of women, migrant workers, the informal sector, and attempts to reduce poverty.

AWAJ Foundation, AMRF Society, and Consulting Service International Ltd. (2013): Worker's Voice Report - Insight into Life and Livelihood of Bangladesh’s RMG Workers This report is the first publication of the Workers’ Voice Project, a joint undertaking of AWAJ Foundation, AMRF Society and Consulting Service International Ltd. (CSI). Workers’ Voice is the attempt to investigate and understand the complexity of Bangladesh’s RMG industry - from the perspective of the workers. The report provides insights from survey research, i.e. interviews with over 1,200 Bangladeshi garment workers from more than 250 different factories, conducted between June 2012 and April 2013 by the staff of AWAJ Foundation. Among others, it provides insight into the quality of the industry’s management and labor relations as well as workers’ perceptions towards the  industry and their role within it.

FREE2WORK (2012): Apparel Industry Trends - From Farm to Factory FREE2WORK is a project of Not for Sale. Free2Work presents data on apparel companies’ current range of responses to ongoing abuse of workers rights and grades the extent to which companies have traced their suppliers and established management systems throughout their supply chains. The report provides detailed information on fifty apparel companies’ CSR practices and assesses each management system in four categories: Policies, Traceability & Transparency, Monitoring & Training, and Worker Rights (statistics and graphics are provided).

The World Bank (2012): Bangladesh Development Series - Consolidating and Accelerating Exports in Bangladesh This report focuses on Bangladesh's economy and explores a few critical areas in some depth. It focuses on the role that trade logistics, skills and compliance with labor standards can play in consolidating existing strenths in exports and moving to higher value products. In doing so, it uses the garment sector as a lens. The report also examines propects for diversifying into IT-enabled services, a sector that is growing fast worldwide and can provide high-quality jobs.

McKinsey (2011): Bangaldesh's Ready Made Garments Landscape - The Challenges to Growth McKinsey & Company's report provides an overview of the rapid growth being seen in Bangladesh's RMG industry and describes the main hurdles that exist for buyers when it comes to sourcing in Bangladesh. The final section of the report details what the three core stakeholders - government, suppliers, and buyers - can do to overcome the challenges of growth in Bangladesh's sourcing market.