Worker Rights and Global Supply Chain

One of the unfortunate results of globalization is a race to the bottom by resource-poor, developing nations eager to secure sourcing contracts from wealthier countries. But low cost goods often come at the expense of workers, some of them children, who work in unsafe conditions, receive unsustainably low wages and have no collective bargaining rights.  

ICCR investor engagements have focused on some of the industries most vulnerable to these workplace abuses including the garment industry, the electronic industry and the agricultural sector.

ICCR’s Recommended Practices for Companies

ICCR recommends that corporations take the following steps to protect their supply chains from the twin risks of labor trafficking and sex trafficking:

Labor Trafficking

• Integrate fair and responsible hiring policies and practices into corporate wide-operations and supply chains.

• Adopt a “no fees” policy for operations and supply chain partners prohibiting the practice of workers paying for their job.

• Utilize existing guidelines for suppliers, such as Verite’s Fair Hiring Tool Kit  who outsource recruitment to ensure that their labor brokers are ethical and in full compliance with labor laws.

• Conduct audits to identify problems or instances of non-compliance and develop corrective action plans that identify root causes to prevent instances of recurrence.

• Participate in” bottom-up,” multi-stakeholder supply chain initiatives--modeled on the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, that include trade unions, non-governmental organizations, brands/retailers and suppliers--in addressing labor trafficking.

• Negotiate fair prices for products made by suppliers so that workers will receive a living wage and not be trapped in debt bondage.

Sex Trafficking

• Integrate the Luxor Implementation Guidelines’ zero tolerance policy towards trafficking in human beings—women, children and men-- into corporate practices and supply chain accountability.

• Adopt and implement the ECPAT Code (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) addressing the sexual exploitation of children and include the code provisions in its human rights policy.

• Include a clause in contracts with vendors, suppliers, host-government agreements and joint ventures to state a common repudiation of trafficking and compliance with local, national and international laws related to all forms of trafficking.

• Train employees on effectively detecting trafficking victims and publicly report on how staff is trained: the number, frequency and type of staff trained and the impact of the training.

• Implement a corporate policy for business travel to use hotel chains that have adopted the ECPAT code or similar policies to combat sex trafficking.

Featured ICCR Initiative

Bangladesh Investor Initiative. Following the collapse of Rana Plaza where nearly 1,200 garment factory workers lost their lives, ICCR has organized a coalition of over 200 global institutional investors representing 12 countries and $3.1 trillion in assets to promote reform of the global apparel sector to guarantee the safety and well-being of workers. On April 24, 2014, the coalition issued a public statement calling for renewed support for the Rana Plaza Trust Fund, established to help victims of the disaster rebuild their lives.

The initiative works to encourage apparel companies to sign The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety,a multi-stakeholder initiative that includes global brands, trade unions, civil society organizations and a representative of the International Labor Organization as the independent chair. Accord signatories agree to binding commitments to make the changes necessary to ensure worker safety. Investors have sent a letter to companies urging them to join the Accord.  Read the list of companies being approached to sign.

Featured Resources

Invested in Better Working Conditions for Garment Workers in Bangladesh (CE Vol 39 No. 4)

Remembering the Victims of Rana Plaza. ICCR and other groups are calling attention to the need for greater financial aid for the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.






Our "No Fees" Initiative

No one should have to pay to secure a job.

What it's like working as an 11-year-old in a garment factory

Nazma Akter, President of Bangladesh Sommilito Garments Shomik Federation

ICCR interviews Nazma Akter about her what it was like to work in a Bangladesh factory as a child.

NPR's Planet Money makes a t-shirt

COTTON: Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt (Part I)

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