The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy.
Dustin Riles is an intern in the Office of
Employment and Unemployment Statistics, U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why do labor standards in global supply chains
fail to improve?
In 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in
Bangladesh’s Dhaka District killed 1,134 workers. As global
outcry over the incident condemned the harsh conditions
faced by Bangladeshi workers, corporations began to
reevaluate the private regulation of labor standards in their
supply chains. In 2015, a segment of the comedy TV show
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver exposed deficiencies in
this type of regulation, eventually motivating Sarosh
Kuruvilla’s new book, Private Regulation of Labor
Standards in Global Supply Chains: Problems, Progress,
and Prospects. In the book, Kuruvilla examines questions
such as the following: How is private regulation of labor
standards carried out? How effective is it? What can be
done to improve labor conditions for workers in global
supply chains? Using new quantitative and qualitative data,
the author offers a thoughtful analysis of private regulation
systems and presents a path forward for these systems.
Kuruvilla’s book takes the reader through every aspect of
private regulation of labor standards. It starts by explaining
how a private regulation system is implemented. Global
buyers, who source their goods from privately owned
suppliers, establish codes of conduct for labor standards
that suppliers must implement. These codes of conduct
cover areas such as wages, worker health and safety, and
collective bargaining rights. The global buyers then perform
audits to ensure that their suppliers adhere to the set rules.
Suppliers often provide goods to multiple global buyers and
thus must follow multiple codes of conduct. The main
incentive for compliance with these codes is the threat that
a global buyer would stop sourcing goods from a supplier if
that supplier has many code violations. In addition, by