Publications, Research Reports and Working Papers

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Center for Global Workers' Rights, Research Report - "Binding Power: The Sourcing Squeeze, Workers’ Rights, and Building Safety in Bangladesh Since Rana Plaza" 

Despite more than two decades of private voluntary approaches to address workers’ rights abuses in apparel supply chains, workers in the lower production tiers continue to face poor working conditions and chronic violations of their rights. Bangladesh has been emblematic of low wages and poor working conditions, culminating in the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013. With the five-year anniversary of the catastrophe approaching, the question arises as to whether the intervening years have seen meaningful gains for workers. This report finds that gains have been severely limited in regard to wages, overtime hours, and work intensity in part due to the sourcing practices of the brands and retailers that sit at the top of global supply chains. A partial exception is in the area of associational rights, where, in the aftermath of Rana Plaza, pressure resulted in minor pro-union labor reforms. This report finds one area where gains for workers have been dramatic: building safety. This is largely the result of an unprecedented binding agreement, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The Accord, which imposes constraints and obligations on global firms that are absent from traditional voluntary CSR schemes, has overseen a massive program of safety renovations and upgrades.
Read full report here: Binding Power

David Kucera and Dora Sari, "New 'Labour Rights Indicators': Method and Results", CGWR Working Paper Series, April 2016. 

Read full paper here: Kucera and Sari 2016

Research Brief: The Bulk of the Iceberg: A Critique of the Stern Center’s Report on Worker Safety in Bangladesh 

The Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University released a report in December 2015, “Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Bangladesh’s Forgo en Apparel Workers.” It argues that the factory inspection programs developed after the Rana Plaza disaster to address worker safety in Bangladesh exclude the majority of workers and are therefore reaching only the “tip of the iceberg.” We have carefully reviewed the Stern researchers’ methodology and data, and come to the opposite conclusion. Contrary to Stern’s assertions, more than 70% of garment workers in Bangladesh are covered by the Accord and the Alliance, and if we include workers employed in factories inspected by the ILO-advised National Initiative, the percentage of covered workers reaches 89%. We also find that Stern, due to a series of errors in data collection and analysis, greatly overestimated the number of formal factories and the size of the workforce. 

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full report 

Mark Anner, 2015. “Worker Resistance in Global Supply Chains: Wildcat Strikes, International Accords, and Transnational Campaigns.” International Journal of Labour Research. 7(1-2): 17-34. 

Read full paper here: Worker Resistance in GSCs

"Unholy Alliances: How Employers in El Salvador’s Garment Industry Collude with a Corrupt Labor Federation, Company Unions and Violent Gangs to Suppress Workers’ Rights."

For full report, click here. For Spanish version, click here.

"The Limits of Voluntary Governance Programs: Auditing Labor Rights in the Global Apparel Industry"

Read full paper here

Dan Hawkins "The Formalization and Unionization Campaign in the Buenaventura Port, Colombia."

Read full report here.