Women Workers and the Promise of Ethical Trade in the Globalised Garment Industry: A Serious Beginning?

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Abstract

The paper gives an overview of the recent development within the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), especially the development of corporate codes of conduct, and considers the prospects they offer for improving labour conditions for workers in the international garments industry. It argues that two specific features of the industry—competitive production systems based on international subcontracting and the use of predominantly female production workers—are likely to undermine the effective development of a codes-based strategy. Nevertheless, the labour rights agenda at the centre of ETI does provide a space for labour activists, whether operating in or out of formal union structures, to build campaigns and connections around global production networks.

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