Side Session | 9 June
Making HRDD Work for Homeworkers
Organized by: Homeworkers Worldwide, Transform Trade and Homenet South Asia
According to the ILO’s most recent study, homebased workers make up 8% of the world’s workforce, rising to 11% of female workers – the vast majority turning to homework to combine earning a living with their caring responsibilities. Millions of women homeworkers work in the supply chains of global brands yet like so much work done by women globally, industrial homework is often informal, irregular, low paid and unrecognised. Homeworkers are denied basic rights as workers and have no access to social protection. Their informal employment, in dispersed sub-contracting chains beyond the factory, means they remain invisible to the brands whose products they are making.
Legal measures to strengthen corporate accountability and extend human rights due diligence within international supply chains are gaining traction in Europe and North America. These initiatives oblige companies to investigate and address human rights risks in their supply chains, and provide effective complaints mechanisms to allow workers to hold companies to account where they have been exploited or abused. Whilst we welcome these proposals, we believe that an approach that focusses solely on tier one factories will not address – and could even unintentionally adversely impact upon - the conditions of the workers with the lowest wages and most precarious employment within global supply chains.
About the session
This session will contribute to the wider debate around how to extend due diligence beyond tier one factories, to increase visibility along supply chains, including subcontractors and homeworkers. Whilst we welcome proposals to extend mandatory due diligence within international supply chains, we believe that an approach that focusses solely on tier one factories will not identify or address the conditions of the workers with the lowest wages and most precarious employment in fashion production chains.
Our expert panel will outline the challenges, and explore possible solutions, to best ensure that due diligence processes include – and bring about positive benefits for - all workers within supply chains, prioritising the most vulnerable women workers, such as homeworkers. We begin with our 2021 research firstly on homeworkers within footwear supply chains, earning only 50% of minimum wage rates, and secondly, exploring homeworkers’ perspectives of decent work, based on focus groups in India, Nepal and Pakistan.
The panel will also outline best practices adopted by leading brands and MSIs alongside concrete proposals that civil society actors can offer, to support all brands to increase transparency and ensure that due diligence processes reach workers right along their supply chains. We hope that these inputs will stimulate a lively Q&A session, moving forward the debate on this important issue. Our session draws on the expertise and experience of key partners in the Hidden Homeworkers project co-funded by the EC, including Homeworkers Worldwide, Traidcraft Exchange (recently rebranded as Transform Trade) and HomeNet South Asia.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Consider the challenges involved in extending HRDD right along international supply chains, to include informal workers and homeworkers.
Present and discuss examples of how these challenges can be overcome.
Consider what is needed to make HRDD legislation effective for homeworkers.
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
What are the challenges involved in extending Due Diligence right along supply chains, to include homeworkers, who are usually the lowest paid women workers within those chains?
How can these challenges be overcome? Can you point to examples of where progress has been made?
What are the factors affecting international garment and footwear brands’ decisions to participate – or not – in supply chain due diligence on homeworking?
How can MSIs help brands strengthen transparency in supply chains involving homeworkers?
Why does transparency matter for supply chain due diligence on homeworking?
What are some of the key things that mandatory human due diligence would need to insist upon and achieve if it is to work for homeworkers?