Using digital tech to improve transparency & traceability of international garment supply chains to ensure fair working conditions for the most vulnerable workers

by George Williams working at Traidcraft Exchange responding to Fairer Futures for Businesses and Workforces

I am interested in exploring

Research questions: Can digital tech help to map garment & footwear supply chains below the level of first tier suppliers (i.e. formal sector factories) and down to the level of homeworkers (women working in their homes that provide a low-costs flexible workforce to the sector with little or no employment security or rights)? Is there a way in which the technology can give voice to the views and priorities of homeworkers, to enhance their visibility to fashion brands and the sector as a whole?

My motivation is

The garment sector's contribution to development is hampered by poor practices in relation to workers’ rights. Civil society response to major tragedies, e.g. Rana Plaza, has driven some improvements and created consumer interest in the working conditions of the people who make our clothes. However, companies must still step-up their efforts to create secure better conditions across their entire supply chain. Full transparency and traceability is needed to gain understanding of working conditions at currently hidden tiers. Companies rarely conduct due diligence below first tier suppliers and therefore ignore the dynamics that take place at contracting/sub-contracting levels, including for homeworkers. Homeworkers are informal workers based in homes or small workshops. They are paid piece rates for work allotted by ‘agents’ who work for local manufacturers. Homeworkers do not receive the same social protections as recognised workers, hence homework is informal, insecure and irregular.

Project focus

I want to focus on:

  • Recognition
  • Redistribution

Collaboration

I am looking for an academic partner in:

  • Data science & engineering
  • Social science (e.g. geography, politics, sociology)
  • Computer science and HCI

I am looking to work in these areas:

  • Finance & Labour market (including banking, gig economy)
  • Web design and digital innovation

Sandpit events

I am going to: Newcastle, February 27th 2020 I am going to: London, March 6th 2020

Contact

George.Williams@traidcraft.org

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