Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 67: Gender and Ethical Trade: Can Vulnerable Women Workers Benefit?
Stephanie Barrientos Introduction Corporate brands and retailers have long been the subject of campaigns by nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions for poor working conditions in their global supply base. In response, a large number of global buyers have introduced codes of labour practice to ensure that their suppliers observe minimum international labour standards. The more comprehensive codes are based on core International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, including no discrimination. A significant number of workers in export production are women. They are often concentrated in insecure and vulnerable employment (seasonal, casual, migrant, homework and contract work). It is among these groups of workers that the worst conditions of employment are usually found – low wages, long hours, lack of contracts, no unionisation, poor health and safety, and lack of social protection. But codes of labour practice often fail to reach more vulnerable women workers, with little impact on reducing casualisation or gender discrimination. This chapter asks whether codes of labour practice can help improve conditions for more vulnerable women workers. It argues that gender discrimination is embedded in the commercial practices of global value chains (GVCs). Global buyers need to integrate better the principles of ethical sourcing into their own business practices if more vulnerable women workers are to benefit. Codes of labour practice in global value chains Global brands and retailers now outsource much of their production to suppliers across the Global South. They are able to coordinate production, distribution and retailing across countries through GVCs. Global brands and retailers...
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