The brand-name fashion industry creates high levels of competition in developing countries, leading to labour exploitation and human rights abuse. The 2013 World Investment Report found that pushing prices down in global value chains has led to "significant negative social and environmental impacts". In response, fashion corporations and retail giants introduced codes of conduct to address consumer concerns and stop any damage to brand reputation. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has had some success in preventing child labour but little if any victory in allowing workers the right to organise and bargain collectively. In fact, CSR has been blamed for undermining the role of trade unions and privatising labour rights. In this article, I trace the history of CSR from shareholders to a human rights model. I highlight tensions between national accumulation policies, company profits, shareholders and CSR on the one hand, and migrant workers and human rights on the other.
Available for download on Wednesday, October 07, 2020