Toward the Development of a Methodology for the Regular Reporting of Working Conditions in the Production of Apparel Imported into the United States (2002)
U.S. Department of Labor
Material contained in this publication is in the public domain and may be reproduced, fully or partially, without permission of the Federal Government. Source credit is requested. This material will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-4887. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) phone: 1-800-326-2577
U.S. Department of Labor
This report was prepared in accordance with the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Conference Report on Making Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2002, and for Other Purposes. The report summarizes the U.S. Department of Labor’s work in response to a request to develop a methodology for the regular reporting of working conditions in the production of apparel imported into the United States.
Development of a Methodology for the Regular Reporting
Imported into the United States
This report was prepared under the direction of Thomas B. Moorhead, Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs, and Michael A. Magán, Associate Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs. The writing, editing, research, and coordination of the report was done by Gregory K. Schoepfle, Director, Foreign Economic Research Division, Office of Division of Economic and Labor Research (OIEA), Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) with assistance from other ILAB staff Janie Hester, Ana Maria Valdes, Charles Spring, and Julie Misner. Essential guidance and input was provided by Jorge Perez-Lopez, Director, OIEA.
Other staff from ILAB, the Employment and Standards Administration, and the Office of the Secretary also made contributions to the report. In addition, significant contributions were made by labor reporting officers, labor attaches, and other officials in U.S. embassies and institutes abroad with assistance from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor. Also, the U.S. Department of Labor would like to thank staff at the International Labor Office in Geneva for their assistance and provision of information, studies, and other materials used in the preparation of this report.
Copies of the report may be obtained by contacting by mail the Office of Division of Economic and Labor Research, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-5317, Washington, DC 20210; or by telephone: (202) 693-4887, fax: (202) 693-4851, or e-mail: <email@example.com>. The report will also be available on the Internet at: http://www.dol.gov/ILAB/media/reports/oiea/workcond/main.htm.
Table of Contents
The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations requested in fiscal year 1998 that the U.S. Department of Labor “establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States.”1 In subsequent fiscal years, the Committee asked the Department to “continue its work to establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States” and “to conduct a pilot study to apply its methodology to working conditions in the apparel industry in a limited number of apparel-exporting countries.”2 In fiscal year 2002, the Committee requested that the Department report on its findings and recommendations by June 30, 2002.3
This report summarizes the Department of Labor’s work in responding to the Committee’s requests and, particularly, to the request that the Department report its findings and recommendations by June 30, 2002.
Over the past five years, the Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) has carried out numerous activities in response to these Congressional requests. The Bureau reviewed the literature on working conditions in the apparel industry and held consultations with apparel industry representatives and trade unions. Bureau staff also visited the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva to meet with experts on the apparel industry and the legal and enforcement aspects of national regulation of working conditions in the apparel sector as well as to gather information and studies conducted by the ILO on these topics.
The Bureau also reviewed the information and data elements contained in the Department’s quarterly Garment Enforcement Report, which reports on the compliance of domestic garment producers with U.S. labor laws. This includes: the number of investigations conducted, number of investigations with violations found, name of companies found in violation, amount of worker back wages recovered, number of employees receiving back wages, and civil fines imposed.
To assess the availability of comparable information on working conditions and labor law enforcement in the apparel industry in major apparel exporting economies, the Bureau sent a cable to the American Embassy, Consulate, or Institute located in each of 25 major apparel-exporting developing-economies, requesting for each economy:4
In addition, the Bureau issued a notice in the Federal Register requesting information from the public on working conditions in the apparel sector in major apparel-exporting economies.5
Based on the work outlined above, the results of our investigation in brief are:
Chapter 2 briefly discusses the global apparel industry, including factors that affect sourcing of production, industry responses to public concerns about working conditions in the apparel industry, and ILO guidance related to working conditions in the industry.
Chapter 3 describes information reported in the U.S. Department of Labor’s quarterly Garment Enforcement Report and surveys available information on working conditions and national labor law violations in the production of apparel imported into the United States, based on input received from the U.S. embassy, consultate, or institute in each of 25 major apparel exporting economies. A general discussion is provided for these economies on how their labor laws and standards related to the conditions of work in the garment sector have been implemented and enforced on a national basis, limitations and difficulties faced, and indicators or statistics that may be available. Private sector initiatives to improve working conditions in the apparel industry are also examined.
Chapter 4 presents a general discussion of some conceptual issues related to the development of a regular global reporting system, points out current limitations to doing so, and suggests a framework and some potential indicators or statistics on working conditions and labor law enforcement in the apparel industry that might be developed for future reporting. Given the current lack of information, several strategies are proposed to help develop the capacity of national labor authorities to improve their labor law enforcement and reporting of working conditions in the apparel industry.
An Appendix presents a summary of ILO conventions, recommendations, and other instruments as well as a listing of ILO reports which are relevant to the issue of working conditions.
The apparel industry has been dramatically affected by changing patterns of global sourcing and production. Historically, as economies begin to develop an industrial base, apparel is one of the first industries established since it relies on relatively unskilled labor-intensive production using simple technology and minimal capital; in addition, there is a ready domestic market for the output. Virtually every economy in the world has some apparel operations. Some 200 economies produce apparel and compete globally for market share, resulting in an intensely competitive global environment.6
Before 1960, advanced industrial economies-such as the United States and Western European economies-dominated the world economy and controlled most of the world’s industrial production. Developing economies tended to concentrate in the production of raw materials, and mainly manufactured for their domestic markets. But beginning in the early 1960s, developing economies began manufacturing for export, primarily to developed economies.7 Over this period, the bulk of the world’s garment productive capacity moved from developed economies to developing economies.8 Due to its labor-intensive nature, apparel production gives a decided competitive edge to producers in lower-wage, less-developed economies.9
The global textile and clothing industry has been increasingly shaped by the constant and rapid changes in the demand for clothing in which the large branded companies and distribution chains have gradually replaced entrepreneurs as the prime movers.10 Over the years, the apparel industry has spread gradually to economies with lower average production costs. The most successful U.S. companies, for example, have recently undergone restructuring, become more involved in retailing, and increased overseas sourcing. Much of the shift has been encouraged by major U.S. retailers and apparel producers in search for lower operating costs as well as fewer quota restrictions.11
Even though developing economies now contribute substantially to the world’s productive capacity of apparel goods, in terms of U.S. trade and consumption, the chains of distribution, contracting and subcontracting arrangements, and quality control specifications are largely driven by retailers and a few large apparel producers in the United States and Europe. The U.S. industry is highly fragmented, with most establishments small or medium size, with an average of 40 employees per establishment for the industry as a whole. Many of the smallest establishments are contractor and subcontractor operations. With the exception of the few large apparel firms, U.S. retailers (often direct importers) are replacing domestic apparel manufacturers in providing merchandise for retail sales and, as a result, a significant portion of products are produced outside the United States.12 Just twelve retail groups account for about two-thirds of all apparel products sold domestically.13 Several factors affecting the globalization of the apparel industry are:
Tariffs and Quotas. A system of tariffs and quotas, applied economy by economy, by developed economies has contributed to the globalization of the apparel industry. Although restrictive overall, the system has failed to prevent many developing economies from gaining sizeable shares of the world market and has spurred new producers in other economies not subject to U.S. apparel quotas to also become exporters.
Contracting and Subcontracting. Although transnational corporations control a significant amount of apparel production and trade, the industry is characterized by loose "arms-length" connections such as subcontracting and licensing. Virtually all physical labor is conducted through elaborate contracting networks. These networks tend to separate retailers and manufacturers from production sites, shielding them from responsibility (and legal liability) for working conditions and making it difficult to monitor enforcement provisions. As a consequence, frequently, it may be the case that in order to meet contractual deadlines, workers may be subjected to very low pay, poor and unsanitary working conditions, and long hours of work, including forced overtime work.15
In recent years, substantial and growing concern among consumers and other groups about working conditions in apparel plants overseas has resulted in numerous U.S. company initiatives-done at some cost to the companies involved-to improve labor conditions through codes of conduct and monitoring systems.21 To assure consumers that imported apparel is not being manufactured under substandard labor conditions abroad, many individual U.S. apparel companies with overseas operations have developed voluntarily workplace codes of conduct for their supplier companies. Similarly, a number of private sector organizations in the United States have established industry-wide labor standards that may be voluntarily adopted by U.S. companies and implemented with their domestic and overseas contractors and suppliers. Organizations focusing on the apparel industry include: Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP),22 serving manufacturers belonging to the American Apparel and Footwear Association (formerly known as the American Apparel Manufacturers Association); the Fair Labor Association (FLA),23 an outgrowth of a coalition of manufacturers, consumer groups, and labor and human rights organizations called the Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP), serving primarily brand-name apparel and footwear manufacturers; the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC),24 a coalition of universities and labor rights advocates serving primarily producers of apparel bearing college or university logos; and Social Accountability International (SAI),25 formerly known as the Council on Economic Priorities Accreditation Agency (CEPAA), serving producers of a variety of consumer goods, including wearing apparel. The adoption and proliferation of corporate codes of conduct and private monitoring systems suggests that universal understanding and clarity about workplace standards and working conditions are not always present.
There are many similarities among these private-sector corporate social responsibility and accountability initiatives. For example, most of these companies and monitoring organizations include provisions in their codes of conduct on the ILO core labor standards (freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, elimination of child labor and forced and bonded labor, and non-discrimination) as well as wages and occupation safety and health standards,26 and they may certify plants by monitoring production facilities for compliance. For manufacturers or retailers with their own individual company codes of conduct, they may lack sufficient management control systems and resources to effectively monitor and enforce their codes.27
International labor standards are agreed upon by representatives of workers, businesses, and government at the ILO and take the form of international labor Conventions and Recommendations.28 The ILO’s Conventions are international treaties which are binding on member-states who have ratified them, while Recommendations are non-binding instruments which usually deal with the same subjects as Conventions but set out guidelines to help shape policy and action at the national level. On a less formal basis, the ILO’s annual International Labor Conference and other ILO bodies often agree on documents which can take the form of Codes of Practice, Resolutions, or Declarations. These documents are intended to provide additional guidance to the member-states but are not referred to as part of the ILO’s system of international labor standards.
Twenty-four Conventions (and accompanying Recommendations), six Codes of Practice, and two Declarations are relevant in assessing the conditions of work in the apparel industry (See Box 1).29 Eight of the Conventions relate to fundamental human rights or core labor standards (freedom of association and collective bargaining, prohibition of forced labor, equality of opportunity and treatment, and elimination of child labor), one relates to labor inspection, and fifteen relate to working conditions (family responsibilities, maternity protection, wages, hours of work and weekly rest, paid leave, night work, occupational safety and health and working environment, and home work). The Codes of Practice mainly relate to guidance on occupational safety and health and working environment issues: recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases; safe use of chemicals; exposure limits on harmful airborne substances; safety, health, and working conditions related to technology transfer to developing economies; and the protection of workers against noise and vibration. The two Declarations are on fundamental principles and rights at work (core labor standards) and principles concerning multinationals and social policy.
With regard to supervision and follow-up on Conventions that have been ratified by a member-state, the ILO requires regular reports from the government every five years on most of these Conventions, but at least every two-years on eight Fundamental Conventions (see Box 1) and four Priority Conventions (No. 144: Tripartite Consultation-International Labor Standards, 1976; No. 81: Labor Inspection, 1947; No. 129: Labor Inspection-Agriculture, 1969; and No. 122: Employment Policy, 1964). The regular system of supervision is based on the ratification of a labor standard and an obligation of regular, periodic reporting on measures taken to give effect to the provisions of the instrument. There are also special systems of supervision to deal with cases of specific allegations against a member-state on a Convention which it has ratified. However, allegations concerning the infringement of freedom of association principles may be brought against member-states even if they have not ratified the Conventions concerned.
The ILO collects periodic reports from the member-states that have ratified the named Conventions and gathers related comments from workers’ and employers’ organizations. This information is presented to a Committee of Experts for their review. Each year, the Committee of Experts publishes its observations which are then considered by the Applications Committee at the annual International Labor Conference held each June. In most cases, the observations relate to technicalities of the application of a country’s law and not to a specific industry, unless the observations specifically make reference to one. Codes of Practice are used as guides by member-states seeking guidance, and there is no follow-up action related to compliance taken by the ILO.
The follow-up mechanisms related to ILO Declarations vary. The Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work has a follow-up mechanism for the core Conventions, but not necessarily specific information related to a particular industrial sector. The Tripartite Declaration on Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy has no formal follow-up mechanism, but only a procedure to interpret the provisions of the Declaration. Interpretations given do not refer to or name the countries or companies involved.
Since many labor issues have a sectoral character and more general issues such as globalization, technological change, flexible work organization, and the situation of special groups such as children, women, and immigrants, take different forms depending upon the economic sector, the ILO initiated a sectoral activities program in the 1940s.30 The objective of the ILO’s Sectoral Activities Program is to facilitate the exchange of information among ILO constituents (employer and worker organizations and relevant government departments) on labor and social developments relevant to particular economic sectors, supported by practically oriented research and technical assistance.
Currently, the ILO’s Sectoral Activities Program focuses on a regular and continuing basis on 22 economic sectors covering industry (agriculture, mining, construction, and manufacturing), services, and maritime activities; one sectoral activity program is devoted to textiles, clothing, leather and footwear. The ILO’s Sectoral Program seeks to improve the capacity of sectoral constituents to deal effectively and equitably with labor issues in economic sectors by holding international meetings for sector constituents to exchange views and experiences and to foster a better understanding of issues and problems to be addressed by promoting a tripartite consensus on sectoral concerns, providing guidance for national and international policies and measures to deal with issues and problems to be addressed, and providing technical advice, practical assistance, and concrete support to ILO constituents in the application of ILO objectives and standards.
Given the characteristics of the apparel sector, issues and problems prompting requests for ILO assistance have included wages, working conditions, and export processing zones. With regard to working conditions in this sector, the ILO has noted:31
The most recent ILO report prepared in 2000 for discussion at a tripartite sectoral meeting to exchange views on labor practices in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear (TCF) industries discussed trends and recent developments in TCF industries, labor practices and fundamental principles and rights at work (including child labor, freedom of association and effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining, discrimination with regard to women and migrant workers, forced labor and debt bondage, clandestine sweatshops, labor practices in EPZs, and private voluntary initiatives).32 The conclusions of this tripartite meeting included recommendations to address sectoral problems related to fundamental principles and rights at work related to the issues of child labor, women workers, migrant workers, homeworkers, debt bondage, overtime, and clandestine workshops (“sweatshops”).33 With regard to the latter, paragraph 15 of the conclusions stated:
. Steps should be taken to strengthen measures to combat clandestine workshops. They represent unfair competition for legally registered enterprises. They subject the workers to intolerable abuses, often practice forced labour, and operate outside the law. The initiatives taken by governments to help eradicate those illegal production facilities should continue to receive the unconditional support of employers’ and workers’ organizations and relevant NGOs. Only the law and effective tripartite coordination at the national level, along with public educational campaigns, will make it possible to put an end to these activities, which is prejudicial to workers as a whole, and to the public image of the TCF industries. Merchants, retailers and marketers must use their power and responsibility to prevent the use of clandestine work in the production of their products.
The conclusions of the 2000 ILO tripartite sectoral meeting on the textile, clothing, leather and footwear industries also addressed the issue of freedom of association and effective recognition of the right of collective bargaining within the sector by noting the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up and the obligation of member-states to respect, promote, and realize in good faith the rights set out in the fundamental (core) ILO Conventions. With regard to export processing zones, paragraph 21 of the conclusions stated:
In paragraph 4 of its resolution concerning future ILO action in the sector,34 the 2000 ILO tripartite sectoral meeting on the textile, clothing, leather and footwear industries requested the ILO’s Director-General:
Thus, in addition to developing internationally agreed upon guidelines related to working conditions in the apparel industry, with corresponding supervisory and follow-up mechanisms, the ILO has an on-going tripartite sectoral group that helps develop a consensus on sectoral labor issues and formulates recommendations, guidance, technical assistance needs, and other ILO action programs to improve working conditions in the apparel industry worldwide.
For the purposes of monitoring working conditions in the apparel industry globally, information is needed for each economy on compliance with national labor law and internationally recognized core labor standards (fundamental rights of workers as defined by the ILO).
To gauge the nature of working conditions on a more general level in a national economy, several types of basic factual information may be helpful: (1) broad measures of economic performance (e.g., per capita GDP, real economic growth rate, rate of inflation, distribution of income, poverty rate); (2) an overview of the national and regional labor force (e.g., the number of economically active, employed, underemployed, and unemployed; immigration and internal migration flows; demographic profile; educational attainment; measures of labor mobility; and the rate of unionization); (3) the size, nature, and extent of the informal sector or underground economy; (4) characteristics of major industrial sectors (e.g., competitiveness, profit margin, use of purchased materials or materials or parts made by others, value added, codes of conduct or ethical business practice); (5) information on working conditions (pay, hours, benefits, safety and health) by industry and locale; (6) national labor laws and regulations and their inspection and enforcement; (7) conformity of national labor law with international labor conventions and standards (the appropriateness and adequacy of national labor regulations and how domestic labor legislation and protections compare with international standards); and (8) ethical and cultural values and level of economic development.
For national labor laws and related standards to be effective, strategies must be developed to ensure compliance (e.g., inspections and reviews of business practices with fines for violations set high enough so as not to be considered just another cost of doing business and the provision of rehabilitative services for those found in violation). The extent of a firm’s compliance with the law (including labor laws) is related to: (1) the firm’s visibility (size and location) and its capacity to pay; (2) the costs and benefits of compliance; (3) government’s will and capacity to enforce the law; and (4) public awareness of existing regulations.35
On a more micro (firm) level, having access to a list of known producers (firms) in the apparel industry would be helpful in defining the population of firms and locations to examine. However, firms registered with government authorities (e.g., commerce, taxation, or export licensing agencies), business associations, or export processing zone authorities are more likely to be more visible firms in the formal sector of the economy, while unregistered and unreported firms and home-based operations (perhaps exempt by law) may present greater difficulties in enumeration of that population. Illegal firms, even though investigated by authorities, often may move their operations frequently to a new location and reopen under a different corporate name or ownership to avoid surveillance. In addition, access to business records (e.g., time, attendance, and payroll) will be critical for the purposes of monitoring.
In the end, most of the information regarding compliance with local and national labor laws will come from available administrative and enforcement data.
Beginning in 1996, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division began issuing quarterly Garment Enforcement Reports to provide the public with information about apparel contractors that violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime laws and the manufacturers they did business with.36 These are the Department reports that the Senate Appropriations Committee made reference to in their initial request to the Department in 1997 to develop a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States to balance the Department’s current reporting on domestic producers.37
Each Garment Enforcement Report issued contained aggregate enforcement statistics (total number of investigations conducted, total number of investigations with wage or hour violations, total amount of back wages recovered, total number of employees receiving back wages, and total civil fines imposed) for major U.S. garment centers during the report period. The report also provided a list of contractors (with company names and addresses) investigated and found to be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act during the report period. The manufacturers identified as doing business with the contractor during the investigation period were also identified (with their names and addresses). Firms that had appeared on a prior listing were listed in bold face type. The list was based on investigative findings of violations, not judicial determinations that any firm had violated the law. Only cases in which the Wage and Hour Division found back wages due in excess of $1,000 (whether for employees of a contractor or a manufacturer) were included on the list. The severity of the contractors’ violations could not be compared on the basis of the dollar amounts of the back wages due, because back wage amounts paid to contractor employees varied based upon the facts, circumstances, and time periods involved. The list did not constitute an endorsement by the federal government of any company, nor did it constitute disapproval of any company.
More recently, the Wage and Hour Division has increased its focus on compliance assistance through training and education at the contracting and manufacturing levels, coupled with tough enforcement especially for repeat offenders, as an effective tool to improve working conditions in the garment industry. To assess compliance, the Wage and Hour Division conducts periodic statistically valid, investigation-based compliance surveys of firms, based upon random samples of registered apparel firms in New York State and California. These surveys show the percentage of garment workers in the firms surveyed that are paid in compliance with Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage and overtime requirements and the percentage of garment firms surveyed that are in compliance with Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements, as well as the average back wages due per employee for firms found in violation.
To assess the availability of information on working conditions in the apparel industry in major apparel exporting economies, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs sent a cable to the American Embassy, Consulate, or Institute located in each of 25 major apparel-exporting developing economies.38 The cable requested the following information from each economy:
In addition, posts were requested to indicate any special problems or difficulties they faced in obtaining information to respond to the above questions. A summary of the information received from the foreign posts is presented below:
None of the twenty-five economies examined has specific labor laws that govern the apparel export sector. In several economies, apparel export production takes place primarily in export processing zones (EPZs), which sometimes are governed by special legislation. Economies where apparel export production in EPZs is significant include Bangladesh, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. With the exception of Bangladesh, domestic labor laws are also applicable to EPZs. In the case of Bangladesh and Pakistan, workers in EPZs are not allowed to form unions.
Enforcement of labor laws tends to be weak in all economies examined. In general, Departments of Labor do not have sufficient resources to carry out adequate enforcement of domestic labor laws. This lax enforcement of labor law carries over to apparel factories. In one instance (El Salvador), the government has concentrated enforcement resources in EPZs and the apparel industry as a result of adverse international publicity about past lack of enforcement of labor law.
Very few changes in domestic labor laws or their enforcement that would improve working conditions in the apparel industry were reported. Efforts to modernize and step up inspection of EPZs-where apparel production is concentrated-were reported for Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. For China and Mexico, efforts to strengthen overall labor inspections were also reported. A negative development in this area is the failure of Bangladesh to eliminate restrictions on freedom of association for workers in EPZs, an action which had been promised since the early 1990s.
Data on enforcement of labor law, and on violations of labor law, in the garment sector comparable to those published quarterly by the U.S. Department of Labor are not available for any of the 25 economies examined. It appears that the Philippines comes closest to producing data comparable to those of the United States for the garment industry. However, these data-and this is also the case for all other economies under examination-refer only to the formal sector of the economy; in the case of the Philippines it is estimated that 40 percent of the economy is engaged in “informal” activities, which are outside of the supervision of government labor authorities. In some of the other economies examined, the size of the informal sector may be even larger than 40 percent. Taiwan also publishes some statistics on inspections and violations of labor law in the apparel sector.
Honduras collects some statistics on enforcement of labor law in the garment sector but does not currently make them available to the public. The Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Jamaica collect information on inspections and labor law violations for the national economy, without distinguishing across industrial sectors.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) office in San Jose, Costa Rica has sponsored studies on conditions in industrial free trade zones in the region. However, participants at a November 1997 ILO-sponsored, tripartite labor conference on this subject questioned the accuracy of some of the statistics employed by researchers.
For the majority of the economies examined, working conditions in the apparel sector generally conform to working conditions for the nation as a whole as reported in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. This seems to be the case for 18 of the 25 economies: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan (except for companies in EPZs, which are exempted from labor legislation), Peru, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey.
For a few of the economies, working conditions in the apparel sector, or in export-oriented apparel factories, are deemed to be better than in the economy at large. In El Salvador, for example, the U.S. Embassy reports that in the maquila export industry, respect for worker rights in general, as well as average working conditions, are markedly better than in the Salvadoran private sector at large. The same is true for Indonesia, although probably not for subcontractors producing components for companies in the export apparel sector. In China, foreign-invested enterprises are reported to have better working conditions than village and township enterprises.
In other economies, labor standards in the apparel export sector seem to lag behind other sectors of the economy. In Bangladesh, for example, failure to pay legal minimum wages and delays in making such payments are more common in small apparel factories than in the industrial sector at large; these factories are also often located in unsafe buildings, riddled by fire safety violations. In the Dominican Republic, workers have encountered greater obstacles to organizing trade unions in EPZ apparel companies although working conditions of apparel workers tend to be better than those of other low-skilled workers. Garment workers in the Philippines have also encountered greater obstacles in organizing unions. And in Sri Lanka, Board of Investment policies and management practices have restricted freedom of association in many garment factories.
As has been documented in the Department of Labor’s report The Apparel Industry and Codes of Conduct: A Solution to the International Child Labor Problem?,39 many U.S. retailers and apparel manufacturers have adopted corporate codes of conduct or similar policy statements that address labor standards in apparel production in the United States and abroad. For 20 of the 25 economies under review, reports from posts stated that codes of conduct developed by U.S. apparel retailers or producers were known in the economy and were being used at least by some of the corporations exporting to the U.S. market. The compliance of firms with codes of conduct is reported to be uneven in the Philippines primarily due to the lack of effective monitoring, a characterization that probably applies to the majority of other economies as well.
In four Central American economies-Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras- associations of apparel producers and/or exporters have developed their own voluntary codes of conduct applicable to their members. Since U.S. importers and/or producers also operate in these economies, both U.S. corporate codes and national codes (drafted by associations of producers and/or exporters) were being applied in these economies.
In a few of the economies under examination, NGOs are taking actions, sometimes in collaboration with international organizations, aimed at improving working conditions. Notable among these initiatives are the MOU signed in 1995 between the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the ILO, and UNICEF to eliminate child labor in the garment sector, independent monitoring projects in El Salvador and Honduras, efforts to raise the awareness of workers regarding their rights in Indonesia, a pilot project in the Mexican state of Morelos which has created a model “no sweatshop” operation, and incipient activities by several NGOs in Sri Lanka.
A handful of the posts reported on specific difficulties experienced in obtaining the requested information and on additional resources that would be needed to be able to provide the requested information. Difficulties in obtaining relevant and timely labor statistics were mentioned with regard to Egypt. Posts in India, Peru, and Sri Lanka stated that limitations on resources affected the ability to report more fully on the issue of garment industry sweatshops. This is a particularly significant problem since available statistics that might be relevant are not available from a single source and might need to be assembled from numerous sources. Thus, any additional requirements for reporting of such data may incur additional costs to the posts as well as to the governments and producers involved.
National labor laws establish a standard for working conditions in an economy. Using measures of compliance with those laws provides a basis for assessing the quality of working conditions in an economy’s apparel industry. Critical in thinking about the development of a methodology for reporting on conditions of work in apparel factories around the world is the capacity of labor authorities in each economy to implement existing labor laws and regulations as well as the enforcement strategies they pursue. Poor working conditions are likely to prevail in economies where labor authorities are underfunded or are otherwise unable to implement laws and regulations (e.g., because of the lack of trained inspectors or their susceptibility to corruption). Basic to improving this situation is the commitment of resources and political will on the part of the government; also important, though often hard to assess, is public understanding and support of the labor laws.
Independent of whether or not the labor authorities are adequately funded or capable of implementing labor laws, differences in enforcement strategies will have a bearing on the information trail that is available. For example, consider two economies, X and Y, with identical degrees of prevalence and severity of substandard working conditions in the apparel sector. Assume that economy X’s enforcement strategy is based on inspections accompanied by advice from the inspector on how to remedy violations and assistance in remedying the violation. Further, assume that economy Y’s enforcement strategy is to assess penalties (fines) for every violation and make this information available to the public. It stands to reason that there will be little evidence, if any, regarding violations of labor law in economy X and much evidence about violations in economy Y, although working conditions in both economies are similar. Thus, differences in enforcement strategies must be taken into account in interpreting and evaluating information on labor law violations.
In some cases, individual apparel manufacturers or retailers as well as associations of wearing apparel manufacturers or retailers have developed codes of conduct for their contractors. Enforcement of these private sector initiatives, which usually are either self-monitored or monitored by an independent or third-party, may or may not be effective or coordinated with local government authorities. The degree to which information on monitoring activities is made available to the public differs widely. In some cases, public release of such information might raise legal liabilities for those involved. Additionally, there may be other private sector initiatives (e.g., by labor unions or NGOs) which are independent of both governmental and industry authorities.
Some aspects of labor enforcement strategies that are relevant include:
Also, it would be useful to know under an economy’s legal system whether a manufacturer or retailer bears any culpability under the law for the working conditions found in their contractor’s facilities.
In theory, a potentially important source of information on the capacity of labor authorities to implement and enforce existing labor laws and regulations is the voluntary reporting system being developed by the ILO on member-states’ labor administration systems (see Box 2). In addition, ILO Convention No. 81, Labor Inspection, and its accompanying Recommendation, specify data elements which the 128 member-countries that have ratified the convention must report annually to the ILO (see Box 3).
The information elements in Boxes 2 and 3 suggest that the following grid of information may be a useful guide to address and improve the capacity for reporting of working conditions and the enforcement and compliance labor laws in an economy’s apparel sector:
Based on our survey of information summarized in Chapter 3, labor inspection data for most apparel exporting economies are very limited; few economies have targeted the apparel industry for labor inspections. If inspection data are available, they are very aggregated and not available by detailed industry. Where available, violations, fines assessed, or wages recovered also are presented on an aggregated basis and not reported by the name of the company found in violation. When labor inspection data are available, they cover only firms in the formal sector (i.e., small producers, family-run enterprises, and homeworkers are excluded as are unregistered clandestine operations which often support sweatshop conditions).
A major challenge in this effort is that, in most cases, whatever information on working conditions for apparel workers is available refers only to production facilities in the formal or “modern” sector of the economies examined (e.g., those registered with government authorities). Less information is available for activities in the informal sector or those involved in casual work, home work, or self-employment. In many of the apparel exporting economies, the informal sector-that part of economic activity outside the official regulated economy-comprises a significant part of overall economic activity, but not necessarily a significant proportion of direct export-oriented economic activity. However, apparel manufacturing involves an extensive chain of subcontracting. As one moves down the contracting chain, activities are more likely to be more informal in nature and some informal sector workers, including homeworkers-especially women-in some economies may be important suppliers or dependent subcontractors to formal sector firms that export certain types of apparel goods.40 In most cases, economic activities in the informal sector are outside national labor regulations and are either unreported or unrecorded in official national economic statistics. Informal activities may fall outside the scope of a nation’s legal and statistical system (e.g., due to exclusions for family enterprises or for small scale enterprise) or may be clandestine operations which evade legal authorities by not complying with certain fiscal, tax, labor, health and safety, fire, or other government regulations. As such, workers in the informal sector have few labor protections.
In lieu of detailed and reliable regular national government reports on labor law enforcement in the apparel industry, some general information on national labor law enforcement may be found in ILO country reports on labor administration, core labor standards, labor inspection, and survey of working conditions. Additional anecdotal information may be available in the U.S. Department of State’s annual country reports on human rights practices and public documents from the U.S. government’s review of GSP petitions as well as trade union, private sector, and NGO reviews of country working conditions.
Given the obstacles, deficiencies, and challenges presented by the conceptual issues and lack of information noted above, a constructive way to proceed may be to explore, pursue, enhance, and support some possible tools and strategies that are currently available to help improve labor law compliance and working conditions in the apparel industry around the world. Several examples are provided below.
There are ongoing efforts by the ILO to assist member states in more fully implementing and complying with the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up41 and the Tripartite Declaration Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy. These efforts focus on the fundamental or “core” labor standards. In addition to its other ongoing activities such as labor law and relations, labor administration and inspection, working conditions, and occupational safety and health, the ILO has a sectoral activity program that covers the apparel industry and addresses working conditions in the sector.
With regard to improving working conditions in the apparel sector in economies that export apparel to the U.S. market, technical assistance might be provided in four broad areas:
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs administers the Department’s international technical assistance programs. The Department funds projects through the ILO to assist developing economies in implementing core labor standards as outlined in the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up. Recently funded technical assistance projects related to the apparel industry include both country programs (in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Haiti) and global programs (to protect basic worker rights throughout the apparel supply chain):
. In cooperation with the Bangladesh Ministry of Labor and Employment, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and member factories, and the ILO, this project seeks to improve labor relations and working conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry with improved capacity to monitor and enforce labor laws and implement international human resource and labor-management best practices.
Cambodia. In cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training, and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSALVY), the Garment Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia (GMAC), trade unions, and the ILO, this project seeks to improve working conditions in the Cambodian apparel sector by establishing an independent monitoring system to generate reliable information on implementation of national labor law and core labor standards and by improving the capacity of employers, workers, and labor ministry officials to ensure compliance with Cambodian labor law and internationally recognized core labor standards.
Haiti. In cooperation with the Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs, the Haitian Association of Industry (ADIH), trade unions, and the ILO, this project seeks to improve working conditions in the Haitian assembly sector by enhancing the capacity of the Ministry to conduct basic labor administration functions, enhancing trade unions’ capacity to contribute to effective implementation of worker rights and improvements in the organization of work and working conditions, and establishing a voluntary, independent monitoring system for participating enterprises, including smaller facilities subcontracted by members of ADIH.
Global Apparel Supply Chain. In cooperation with representatives of governments, employers, and workers and the ILO, this initiative focuses on the apparel sector and seeks to address the challenge faced by local factory managers in several economies in Southeast Asia to meet the multiplicity of, and sometime contradictory, demands, including the implementation of multiple private-sector (corporate) codes of conduct in a single workplace, adherence to national labor laws, compliance with international labor standards, and competitive business practices.
Most of these apparel programs are still being implemented and it is too soon to meanfully assess the outcomes or measure their effectiveness. Nevertheless, some early results from the Camboian project are promising. The ILO’s Third Synthesis Report on the Working Conditions Situation in Cambodia’s Garment Sector observes:42
Other Department technical assistance programs, not necessarily sector specific, support the ILO Declaration and the capacity of labor ministries to enforce labor laws, for example:
. In cooperation with representatives of governments, employers, and workers and the ILO, this initiative seeks to increase public awareness about the fundamental principles and rights at work covered by the ILO Declaration, increase the understanding of stakeholders of the benefits that derive from increased respect for and compliance with the rights at work, increase the knowledge of local resources, laws, and mechanisms for protecting basic rights at work, and improve the protection of basic rights at work.
Freedom of Association, Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations in Central America. In cooperation with the Central American Ministries of Labor and Labor Courts, trade unions, employer groups, and the ILO, this program seeks to promote industrial relations, collective bargaining, and conflict resolution in Central America through training of employers and trade unions on relevant labor laws, promotion of conflict prevention and dispute resolution, and strengthening executive systems (including labor inspection and remediation systems) and judicial systems (including labor courts) responsible for administering and enforcing national labor laws.
The National Academy of Sciences, under contract from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, is developing for the Bureau a data base of objective information from around the world on national labor laws, systems of enforcement, observance of international labor standards, and actual labor practice to help monitor country application of labor standards and regional labor policy developments.43 This information base will provide a better understanding within the United States of the current situation in developing economies with regard to their respect for core labor standards and enforcement of national labor laws and serve as a comprehensive resource information base on the legal basis and compliance strategy needs from which baseline measures can be developed to determine progress and identify problem areas or areas of priority for technical assistance. Working closely with other U.S. government agencies, the program will coordinate efforts to strengthen labor reporting, assure effective utilization of technical assistance funds, and effective evaluation of labor standards aspects related to U.S. trade initiatives (e.g., Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and free trade agreements that may be negotiated by the United States).
Since fiscal year 1995, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs International Child Labor Program has supported international efforts to eliminate child labor through its support of global and country programs administered by the ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). These efforts focus primarily on the worst forms of international child labor and the prevention, removal, rehabilitation, and placement in school of child workers. One of these programs sought to eliminate child labor in the Bangladesh garment export industry:
. A major successful tripartite ILO/IPEC effort supported by the U.S. Department of Labor resulted in the virtual elimination of child labor in the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporter Association (BGMEA) garment factories, the placement of child workers in school programs, continued monitoring and verification of compliance, and the preparation for integration of this effort into a broader project in the garment export industry in Bangladesh.
Finally, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor provides support from its appropriations for anti-sweatshop activities for the development of and research into approaches and mechanisms to combat sweatshop labor in overseas factories that produce for the U.S. market. Projects which have been funded recently include: assessing the impact of voluntary company codes of conduct; support for private voluntary monitoring and certification initiatives; worker education programs and verification of the application of the codes of conduct; remedies for sexual harassment; programs to assure compliance throughout corporate supply chains; and support for local NGOs to gather information and monitor the effectiveness of codes of conduct.
Global sourcing and extensive use of subcontracting in the apparel industry often make it difficult to determine the exact nature and working conditions under which a garment is produced. Most of the apparel produced for import into the United States is made (or assembled) in developing countries. The capability of labor ministries in most of these economies to monitor labor law violations is often quite limited.
Publicly available labor inspection data for most apparel exporting economies, if available, are limited to the formal sector activities, highly aggregated by broad economic sector, and often of poor quality or reliability. These factors have led ILAB to conclude that objective data do not currently exist to develop a periodic, reliable global report on the labor conditions in the production of apparel for import into the United States like the quarterly Garment Enforcement Report prepared by the Department’s Wage and Hour Division on wage and hour violations by domestic apparel producers.
Labor ministry budgets, staffing, and infrastructure are inadequate in most major apparel-exporting developing economies to support a credible labor inspection and enforcement program for the apparel industry (or any other industry for that matter). One of the results of this inadequacy is the lack of detailed labor inspection and enforcement data. Additional monitoring and enforcement of labor laws and the collection and reporting of more complete compliance information and enforcement data would have a cost to both the governments and producers involved. To improve this situation, a political commitment by the national governments to do so is necessary. In addition, some assistance (perhaps from the ILO, supported by contributions from developed-economy apparel importing economies) to help develop a credible and integrated labor inspection, compliance assistance, and enforcement program in apparel exporting developing economies would be needed before any useful global reporting can be done on the use of substandard working conditions in apparel production for import into the United States.
One approach that may merit consideration might be to consider whether it may be possible to modify, adapt, and apply to other apparel exporting economies the tripartite models that were developed by the ILO, with U.S. support, in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Haiti to improve working conditions and that also have developed a credible system to monitor those conditions in the apparel sector. Given the importance of apparel exports to the United States from economies in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America and the Caribbean, it may make sense to develop a regional approach. A regional strategy might lead to more positive outcomes and be more synergistic than a single country focus that could disadvantage firms in one country subject to monitoring and publicly available reports against those in a neighboring one without such.
In response to a request from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs for information related to developing a methodology for the collecting of data and reporting on sweatshops in countries that produce apparel for export to the United States, the International Labor Office in Geneva prepared a comprehensive brief on relevant ILO standards and instruments, including major declarations and codes of practice as well as publications and reports, which might be of potential use in the Department’s work. The following is based on materials supplied by the ILO and on information available on the ILO’s web site at <http://www.ilo.org>.
I. ILO Conventions and Accompanying Recommendations and Codes of Practice
Fundamental ILO Conventions: Eight ILO Conventions have been identified by the ILO’s Governing Body as being fundamental to the rights of human beings at work, irrespective of levels of development of individual member-states. These rights are considered a precondition for all others in that they provide for the necessary implements to strive for improvement of individual and collective conditions of work.
Convention No. 87: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, 1948.
Convention No. 98: Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining, 1949.
Convention No. 29: Forced Labor, 1930; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 35.
Convention No. 105: Abolition of Forced Labor, 1957
Convention No. 100: Equal Remuneration, 1951; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 90.
Convention No. 111: Discrimination-Employment and Occupation, 1958; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 111.
Convention No. 138: Minimum Age, 1973; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 146.
Convention No. 182: Worst Forms of Child Labor, 1999; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 190.
Labor Inspection: Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles included labor inspection among the general principles forming the foundation of the ILO in 1919, noting that “Each State should make provision for a system of inspection in which women should take part, in order to ensure the enforcement of the laws and regulations for the protection of the employed.” Subsequently, the International Labor Conference adopted labor inspection Conventions to ensure the adequate enforcement of national labor laws and regulations with a view to the protection of workers and improvement of conditions of work through adequate labor inspection.
Convention No. 81: Labor Inspection, 1947, and its Protocol of 1995; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 81.
Non-fundamental Human Rights Conventions and International Labor Standards Concerning Women Workers: In addition to the fundamental human rights ILO Conventions, the Governing Body has called several other international labor standards (e.g., one dealing with workers with family responsibilities) non-fundamental basic human rights standards. While most international labor standards apply without distinction to men and women workers, several Conventions and Recommendations apply specifically to women. In this area, the ILO’s standard setting work focuses on two broad areas of concern: (1) guaranteeing equality of opportunity and treatment in access to training, employment, promotion, organization and decision-making, as well as securing equal conditions of remuneration, benefits, social security, and welfare services provided in connection with employment; and (2) protecting women workers especially in relation to conditions of work which may entail risks for maternity.
Convention No. 156: Workers with Family Responsibilities, 1981; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 165.
Convention No. 3: Maternity Protection, 1919; Convention No. 103: Maternity Protection-revised, 1952; this Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 95; and Convention No. 183: Maternity Protection-revised, 2000; this Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 191.
Working Conditions Standards: International labor standards on the level and protection of wages, hours of work and rest, paid leave, and night work are also important in the global improvement of working conditions and the standard of living for workers.
Convention No. 26: Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery, 1928; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 30.
Convention No. 131: Minimum Wage Fixing, 1970; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 135.
Convention No. 95: Protection of Wages, 1949; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 85.
Convention No. 1: Hours of Work-Industry, 1919
Convention No. 14: Weekly Rest-Industry, 1921
Convention No. 132: Holidays with Pay-revised, 1970
Convention No. 171: Night Work, 1990; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 178.
International Labor Standards on Safety and Health: The protection of workers against occupational illness and injury and the broader concerns related to a safe and healthy working environment are embodied in more than 60 ILO standards (the highest number in any field). The Governing Body has placed safety and health standards into three categories: (1) encouraging national policy and action toward a safe and healthy working environment, preservation of the well-being and dignity of workers, including proper supervision of safety procedures related to use hazardous machinery and equipment; (2) providing protection to workers against particular agents (e.g., chemicals and other hazardous materials), occupational cancer, handling of machinery, and specific risks in the working environment; and (3) providing protection in certain branches of economic activity, such as construction, office work, and dock work. In addition to its safety and health standards, the ILO has developed more than 20 Codes of Practice which are contained in manuals with model codes and guidelines to aid in the formulation of detailed regulations on occupation safety and health; the Codes of Practice refer to various sectors of economic activity as well as to particular risky work situations such as the handling of hazardous materials or substances or the operation of dangerous machinery.
Convention No. 155: Occupational Safety and Health, 1981; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 164.
Related Codes of Practice:
Convention No. 170: Safe Use of Chemicals, 1990; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 177.
Related Code of Practice:
Safety in the Use of Chemicals at Work, 1993.
This code of practice provides guidance on the implementation of Convention No. 170 and Recommendation No. 177 for all those engaged in framing provisions. The practical recommendations of the code cover all the elements necessary to ensure an efficient flow of information from manufacturers or importers to users of chemicals and to enable employers to formulate measures to protect workers, the public, and the environment.
Convention No. 148: Air Pollution, Noise, and Vibration, 1977; the Convention is supplemented by Recommendation No. 156.
Related Codes of Practice:
There are no Conventions or other labor standards related to occupational safety and health and the working environment which apply only to the apparel industry.
Home Work: The International Labor Conference has adopted one Convention related to home work to ensure as far as possible the equality of treatment between homeworkers and other wage earners. Home work is remunerated work done for another person (the employer) that is carried out in the homeworker’s residence (e.g., as a dependent subcontract worker). Independent own-account or self-employed workers are excluded from this notion.
Convention No. 177: Home Work, 1996
II. ILO Declarations
Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998.
This declaration, adopted by the 86th Session of the International Labor Conference on June 18, 1998, commits member-states to observe and promote the universal application of certain fundamental rights of workers as defined by the core Conventions on: (a) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; (b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; (c) the effective elimination of child labor; and (d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policies, 1977.
This declaration-a voluntary code resulting from a consensus among governments, employers, and workers, and adopted by the Governing Body of the ILO on November 16, 1977-sets out principles in the fields of employment, training, conditions of work and life, and industrial relations which multinational enterprises, as well as governments, and employers’ and workers’ organizations are recommended to observe. Its follow up machinery consists of periodic reports by governments and by employers’ and workers’ organizations on the effect given to the Declaration, and of a procedure for examination of disputes concerning the application of the Declaration by means of interpretation of its provisions.
III. ILO Reports, Working Papers, Conference Papers, and Manuals
Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, Report for Discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Labor Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 2000); Conclusions on labour practices in the footwear, leather, textiles and clothing industries (Tripartite Meeting on Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000/9, Geneva, 16-20 October 2000) on the ILO web site at: <http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/techmeet/tmlfi00/conclude.htm>; Resolution concerning future ILO action in the footwear, leather, textiles and clothing industries (Tripartite Meeting on Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000/8, Geneva, 16-20 October 2000) on the ILO’s web site at: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/techmeet/tmlfi00/resolute.htm; Note on the Proceedings, Tripartite Meeting on Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, Geneva, 16-20 October 2000, TMLFI/2000/11, appended to International Labour Office, Governing Body, 280th Session, Committee on Sectoral and Technical Meetings and Related Issues, Third Item on the Agenda, Effect to be given to the recommendations of sectoral meetings, Tripartite Meeting on Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries (Geneva, 16-20 October 2000), GB.280/STM/3/2, Geneva, March 2001, available on the ILO’s web site at: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb280/index.htm.
Globalization of the Footwear, Textiles and Clothing Industries, Report for Discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on the Globalization of the Footwear, Textiles and Clothing Industries: Effects on Employment and Working Conditions, TMFTCI/1996 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 1996); Note on the Proceedings, Tripartite Meeting on the Globalization of the Footwear, Textiles and Clothing Industries: Effects on Employment and Working Conditions, Geneva, 28 October - 1 November 1996, TMFTCI/1996/11 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 1997).
Business Ethics in Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) Industries: Codes of Conduct, Working Paper by Jean-Paul Sajhau, Industrial Activities Branch, SAP 2.60/WP.110 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 1997).
Action Manual on Improving Working Conditions and Productivity in the Garment Industry (Geneva: International Labour Office, forthcoming).
Overview of Global Developments and Office Activities Concerning Codes of Conduct, Social Labelling and Other Private Sector Initiatives Addressing Labour Issues, Governing Body, 273rd Session, Working Party on Social Dimensions of the Liberalization of International Trade, G.B.273/WP/SDL/1 (Geneva: International Labour Office, 1998); A Social Conscience in the Global Marketplace? Labour Dimensions of Codes of Conduct, Social Labelling and Investor Initiatives, a paper by Janelle Diller in International Labour Review, Vol. 138, No. 2 (1999), pp. 99-129.
Action Against Child Labor (Geneva: International Labour Office, Working Conditions and Environment Department, International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour, 1999).
Labour Inspection and the Adoption of a Policy on Child Labour, Document No. 36 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Labour Administration Branch, 1994).
New Prevention Strategies for Labour Inspection, Document No. 56 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Labour Administration Branch, 1998).
La Situación Sociolaboral en las Zonas Francas y Empresas Maquiladoras del Istmo Centroaméricano y República Dominicana, Proyecto RLA/94/MO9/NOR (San José: Oficina de la Oficina Internacional del Trabajo para América Central y Panamá y Oficina de Actividades para los Trabajadores, 1996); La industria de la maquila en Centroamérica, Informe para el Seminario Subregional de Empleadores de Centroamérica y República Dominicana (San José: Oficina de la Oficina Internacional del Trabajo para América Central y Panamá y Oficina de Actividades para los Empleadores, 1997).
Labour and Social Issues Relating to Export Processing Zones, Report for Discussion at the Tripartite Meeting of Export Processing Zones-Operating Countries, TMEPZ/1998 (Geneva: International Labour Office, 1998); Note on the Proceedings, Tripartite Meeting on Labour and Social Issues Related to Export Processing Zones, Geneva, 28 September - 2 October 1998 (Geneva: International Labour Office, 1998).
Profiles on Occupational Safety and Health, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and ADMITRA, 1991-92.
Informational Note on Women Workers and Gender Issues on Occupational Safety and Health, by Valentina Forastieri (Geneva: International Labour Office, SAFEWORK, 2000), available on the ILO’s web site at <http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/gender/womenwk.htm>.
Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment in the Informal Sector through Safety and Health Measures, by Valentina Forastieri (Geneva: International Labour Office, SAFEWORK, 1999), available on the ILO’s web site at <http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/sectors/informal/informal1.htm>.
1The Senate Committee on Appropriations report on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 1998 states: "In addition, the Committee is concerned by the large and growing problem of abusive treatment of workers around the world who produce apparel for export to the United States and the impact of that treatment on companies and workers in the United States. In an effort to obtain more detailed and accurate information, the Committee urges the Department [of Labor] to establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States. Because the Department's reporting capabilities are currently limited to violations by domestic producers only, the misleading impression that violations of law and substandard conditions in the industry are far more extensive within the United States than elsewhere is given. Development of new reporting methods should help to correct the existing imbalance in the Department's current reporting on this subject." (Senate Report 105-58 to accompany S. 1061, July 24, 1997, p. 26)
2The Senate Committee on Appropriations report on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 1999 contained the identical language as in its report for 1998. (See Senate Report 105-300 to accompany S. 2440, September 8, 1998, p. 35) The Conference Report on Making Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1999 states: "It is the intent of the conference agreement that the Department of Labor continue its work to establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States. It is now appropriate for the Department to conduct a pilot study to apply its methodology to working conditions in the apparel industry in a limited number of apparel-exporting countries, based on any indicators that have been developed by the Department." (House of Representatives Report 105-825, Conference Report to accompany H.R. 4328, October 19, 1998, p. 1263) The Senate Committee on Appropriations report on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2000 states: "It is the Committee's intent that the Department of Labor continue its work to establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States. The Department is encouraged to conduct a pilot study to apply its methodology to working conditions in the apparel industry in a limited number of apparel-exporting countries, based on any indicators that have been developed by the Department." (Senate Report 106-166 to accompany S. 1650, September 29, 1999, p. 46) The Senate Committee on Appropriations report on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2001 states: "It is the Committee's intent that the Department of Labor continue its work to establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States. The Department is encouraged to conduct a pilot study to apply its methodology to working conditions in the apparel industry in a limited number of apparel-exporting countries." (Senate Report 106-293, to accompany S. 2553, May 12, 2000, p. 45)
3The Senate Committee on Appropriations report on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2002 states: "The Committee requested a study by the Department in fiscal year 1998 on the development of a methodology for the regular reporting of working conditions in the production of apparel imported into the United States. The Committee expects this report to be provided by December 31, 2001 along with corresponding recommendations for overcoming whatever deficiencies were identified." (Senate Report 107-84, to accompany S. 1536, October 11, 2001, p. 45) In addition, the Conference Report on Making Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2002, and for Other Purposes states: "In addition, the conferees urge ILAB to report by June 30, 2002 on the study that was undertaken by the Department with regard to regular reporting of working conditions in the production of apparel imported into the U.S. The Senate report contained similar language." (House of Representatives Report 107-342, Conference Report to accompany H.R. 3061, December 19, 2001, p. 64)
4The cable (unclassified Department of State outgoing telegram, number 093338, May 26, 1998) was sent to the following economies: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.
5Federal Register, Vol. 63, No. 167 (August 28, 1998), p. 46072. Responses were received from the American Apparel Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the International Mass Retail Association (IMRA), and the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association.
6DRI/McGraw-Hill, Standard & Poor's, and U.S. Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration, U.S. Industry & Trade Outlook '98 (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998), pp. 33-1 and 33-2.
11DRI/McGraw-Hill, Standard & Poor's, and U.S. Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration, U.S. Industry & Trade Outlook '99 (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1999), p. 33-1; see also, U.S. International Trade Commission, Industry & Trade Summary: Apparel, Publication 2853 (Washington: U.S. International Trade Commission, January 1995), p. 1.
12DRI/McGraw-Hill, Standard & Poor's, and U.S. Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration, U.S. Industry & Trade Outlook '98 (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1998), pp. 33-2 and 33-6.
19The International Labor Organization has defined an EPZ as a clearly delineated industrial estate which constitutes a free trade enclave in the customs and trade regime of an economy, and where foreign manufacturing firms producing mainly for export benefit from a certain number of fiscal and financial incentives. See International Labour Organization and U.N. Centre for Transnational Corporations, Economic and social effects of multinational enterprises in export processing zones (Geneva: ILO/UNCTC, 1988), p. 4.
21See, for example, Pamela Varley, ed., The Sweatshop Quandary: Corporate Responsibility on the Global Frontier (Washington, DC: Investor Responsibility Research Center, February 1998), and Barbara Fliess and Tadatsugu Matsudaira, Codes of Corporate Conduct: An Inventory, Prepared for the Working Party of the Trade Committee, TD/TC/WP(98)74/Final (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Trade Directorate, Trade Committee, May 1999).
22For more information, see WRAP's web site at http://www.wrapapparel.org.
23For more information, see FLA's web site at http://www.fairlabor.org.
24For more information, see WRC's web site at http://www.workersrights.org.
25For more information, see SAI's web site at http://www.cepaa.org.
26For further information on the content of the various codes, see Kathryn Gordon and Miyake, Deciphering Codes of Corporate Conduct: A Review of their Contents, Working Papers on International Investment, Number 1999/2 (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Directorate for Financial, Fiscal and Enterprise Affairs, 1999; revised March 2000) and Barbara Fliess, Kathryn Gordon, and Maiko Miyake, Codes of Corporate Conduct-An Expanded Review of their Contents, Working Party of the Trade Committee, TD/TC/WP(99)56/Final (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Trade Directorate, Trade Committee, June 2000).
27See, for example, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Making Codes of Corporate Conduct Work: Management Control Systems and Corporate Responsibility, Working Papers on International Investment, Number 2001/3 (Paris: OECD, Directorate for Financial, Fiscal, and Enterprise Affairs, February 2001).
30For more information on the program, consult the ILO's web site at: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/.
31See Textiles; Clothing; Leather; Footwear, Sectoral Activities, International Labour Organization on the ILO's web site at: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/sectors/textile.htm.
32See Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, Report for Discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Labor Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 2000).
33See Conclusions on labour practices in the footwear, leather, textiles and clothing industries (Tripartite Meeting on Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000/9, Geneva, 16-20 October 2000) on the ILO web site at: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/techmeet/tmlfi00/conclude.htm.
34See Resolution concerning future ILO action in the footwear, leather, textiles and clothing industries (Tripartite Meeting on Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000/8, Geneva, 16-20 October 2000) on the ILO's web site at: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/techmeet/tmlfi00/resolute.htm.
35International Labour Organization, Employment and Social Protection in the Informal Sector, Employment in the Informal Sector: Challenges and Future Agenda, Governing Body, Committee on Employment and Social Policy, GB.277/ESP/1/2 (Geneva: International Labour Office, March 2000), p. 5.
36All Garment Enforcement Reports that have been issued by the Department since 1996 are available on the U.S. Department of Labor's web site at http://www.dol.gov/esa/garment/index.htm.
37The Senate Committee on Appropriations report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 1998, reads, in part: "In addition, the Committee is concerned by the large and growing problem of abusive treatment of workers around the world who produce apparel for export to the United States and the impact of that treatment on companies and workers in the United States. In an effort to obtain more detailed and accurate information, the Committee urges the Department [of Labor] to establish a methodology and format for reporting regularly on the use of sweatshops in the production of apparel for import into the United States. Because the Department's reporting capabilities are currently limited to violations by domestic producers only, the misleading impression that violations of law and substandard conditions in the industry are far more extensive within the United States than elsewhere is given. Development of new reporting methods should help to correct the existing imbalance in the Department's current reporting on this subject." (Senate Report 105-58 to accompany S. 1061, July 24, 1997, p. 26).
38The cable (unclassified Department of State outgoing telegram, number 093338, May 26, 1998) was sent to, and responses were received from, the following economies: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.
40See, for example, Martha Chen, Jennefer Sebstad, and Lesley O'Connell, "Counting the Invisible Workforce: The Case of Homebased Workers," World Development 27:3 (1999), pp. 603-610; see also, Labour Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, Report for Discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Labor Practices in the Footwear, Leather, Textiles and Clothing Industries, TMLFI/2000 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 2000) and Globalization of the Footwear, Textiles and Clothing Industries, Report for Discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on the Globalization of the Footwear, Textiles and Clothing Industries: Effects on Employment and Working Conditions, TMFTCI/1996 (Geneva: International Labour Office, Sectoral Activities Programme, 1996).
41The follow-up mechanism of the Declaration obligates the ILO to offer technical assistance and advisory services to its members to promote and realize the principles concerning fundamental rights at work, making full use of its constitutional and budgetary resources, including the mobilization of external resources and support.
42For further information, see "Third Synthesis Report on the Working Conditions Situation in Cambodia's Garment Sector," Garment Sector Working Conditions Improvement Project (Geneva: International Labour Organization, Social Dialogue, June 2002), which is available on the ILO's web site at http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/ifpdial/publ/cambodia3.htm.
43For further information, see "Toward Improved International Labor Standards: Data, Monitoring, and Enforcement," Project Identification Number CFEX-Q-01-03-A, National Academy of Sciences, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Policy and Global Affairs Division, Center for Education, Washington, DC on their web site at http://www4.nas.edu/webcr.nsf/ProjectScopeDisplay/CFEX-Q-01-03-A.