The manufacture of apparel is an exemplar of global production. Since the 1970s, multinational brands have increasingly outsourced their manufacturing activities to lower cost production locations in developing countries. The low entry barriers and minimal investments needed in apparel have led to booming employment in apparel factories in regions where formal employment was limited. While this has translated into higher labour force participation rates and new empowerment opportunities for previously marginalized groups such as young, unskilled women and migrant workers, it has also become increasingly clear that workers are often exploited and work in unsafe conditions in order to keep production costs competitive in the global marketplace. This was made dramatically evident by the 2013 garment factory collapse in Bangladesh.
This new volume analyses how workers, governments and business can collaborate in order to confront the key opportunities and challenges affecting labour in apparel global value chains. It provides new empirical insights into the garment sector in Asia (Cambodia, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic), Europe (Romania), Africa (Lesotho, Morocco) and the Americas (Haiti, Nicaragua), with a focus on wages, worker empowerment and the institutional contexts facilitating or hampering the attainment of improved working conditions.