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Worker-led strategies in the garment industries

With the failure of the traditional, corporate-led initiatives to address labor violations, new models have emerged to hold brands and retailers accountable for working conditions in their supply chains. A new report from the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) shows that enforceable brand agreements (EBAs) differ significantly from corporate-led models because they seek to address the features of the apparel supply chain that are at the root of poor working conditions and labor rights violations: namely, the absence of binding and enforceable commitments, lack of transparency, sidelining of workers and their elected trade union representatives, and how the brands’ purchasing practices contribute to labor rights violations.

The report explores the successes and challenges of three examples — in Indonesia, Honduras, and Bangladesh — of EBAs in the global apparel industry, examining the context in which each was developed and how they address the deficiencies in the traditional CSR approach. It then outlines a four-part analytic framework, or 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.

Photo: Tareq Salahuddin


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