Research Reports

The WRC conducts research into issues of concern in the apparel supply chain. Topics researched include the effects of wage theft on workers, the extent of violence against worker advocates in a particular country or region, and broader industry trends. These research projects are often conducted in partnership with our colleagues at our university affiliates and other research institutions.

Bangladesh Government’s Safety Inspection Agencies Not Ready to Take Over Accord’s Work (2019)

The government of Bangladesh is using proceedings before the Supreme Court of Bangladesh to prevent the Accord on Fire and Building Safety from operating, thereby putting workers’ safety at risk. A ruling on 7 April 2019 in Bangladesh’s Appellate Court could require the Accord to close its Dhaka office and operations without taking into account whether national agencies would be ready to take up the work. The government’s justification for trying to end the Accord’s work depends entirely on its claim that the government is ready to assume responsibility for the 1,688 factories under the Accord’s purview, but our research shows a shocking level of unreadiness.

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“Ethiopia is a North Star”: Grim Conditions and Miserable Wages Guide Apparel Brands in their Race to the Bottom (2018)

As global brands continue their relentless quest for low-cost production locations, Ethiopia is emerging as a coveted destination. This report presents the results of an investigation of the labor rights environment in Ethiopia’s growing textile and apparel export sector. The investigation included in-depth interviews with garment workers at four export factories producing for leading brands. It reveals wages that are lower, by a substantial margin, than those in any other significant exporting country and grim working conditions that bear little resemblance to the standards the brands claim to be upholding in their supply chains.

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Unholy Alliances: How Employers in El Salvador’s Garment Industry Collude with a Corrupt Labor Federation, Company Unions and Violent Gangs to Suppress Workers’ Rights (2015)

This report details how garment factories in El Salvador collude with various corrupt
and unlawful entities – from labor federations that take pay-offs from employers, to
company unions, and, in some cases, even violent street gangs – to undermine workers’
right to freedom of association in the country’s apparel industry.

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Alianzas Nefastas (2015)

Disponible además en español aquí

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Crackdown in Cambodia: Workers Seeking Higher Wages Meet Violent Repression (2014)

On January 2 and 3, 2014, Cambodian security forces engaged in deadly attacks on protesting garment workers in the country’s capital, Phnom Penh. The country’s military police killed at least four people and injured at least 38 by firing assault rifles at workers who were protesting outside garment factories, demanding higher wages. The deadly assault was a response to strikes and demonstrations by tens of thousands of garment factory workers calling for a wage adequate to meet their basic needs.

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Global Wage Trends for Apparel Workers, 2001-2011 (2013)

Garment workers in many of the leading apparel-exporting countries earn little more than subsistence wages for the long hours of labor that they perform. And in many of these countries, as this report discusses, the buying power of these wages is going down, not up.

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Made in Vietnam: Labor Rights Violations in Vietnam’s Export Manufacturing Sector (2013)

This is a briefing paper for Worker Rights Consortium
affiliate universities and colleges and their licensees concerning
the labor rights environment in Vietnam and, in particular, its
export garment manufacturing industry, a sector which includes
the production of collegiate licensed apparel.

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Stealing from the Poor: Wage Theft in the Haitian Apparel Industry (2013)

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Its expanding garment industry pays wages to workers that are among the lowest in any of the world’s leading apparel-exporting nations. Yet despite benefiting from rock-bottom labor costs – as well as trade preferences under the HOPE II program – garment factory owners in Haiti routinely, and illegally, cheat workers of substantial portions of their pay, depriving them of any chance to free their families from lives of grueling poverty and frequent hunger.

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Monitoring in the Dark: An evaluation of the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia monitoring and reporting program (2013)

For over a decade, the Cambodian apparel manufacturing industry has sought competitive advantage in the international marketplace by seeking to obtain and preserve a reputation for relatively greater respect for labor rights than other garment-exporting countries in the region. An examination of the Cambodian garment industry’s recent track record with respect to labor rights, however, raises serious doubts about whether this reputation is warranted.

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Tearing Apart at the Seams: How Widespread Use of Fixed-Duration Contracts Threatens Cambodian Workers and the Cambodian Garment Industry (2011)

Over the past several years, the Cambodian garment industry has undergone a radical transformation in the composition of its labor force. During the mid-1990s, when the Cambodian garment industry experienced its initial boom, the majority of workers were hired on a permanent basis under what Cambodian law calls “undetermined-duration contracts” (“UDCs”). Now, factories hire new workers almost exclusively under short-term, temporary contracts, referred to in Cambodia as “fixed-duration contracts” (“FDCs”), and many workers originally hired under UDCs have faced pressure to convert their permanent contracts to FDCs.

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