A Research Project of Oxfam International
[ 2008-04-04 ]
Trading Away Our Rights: Women Working in Global Supply Chains (Oxfam International, October 2003) Oxfam International launched Make Trade Fair Campaign in January 2004. 12 branches of Oxfam International as well as her partner organizations conducted interviews of female laborers in six countries. They investigated the laborers' work and living conditions, and opened for scrutiny the discrimination received by women workers in the global supply chain. ICO was responsible for conducting surveys in 8 garment factories in mainland of China.

Executive Summary
The report is aimed at promoting living conditions of working women in global supply chain. The report involved the workers in China, Thailand, Bengal, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Kenya and Morocco, most of whom are garment women workers. Entrusted by Hong Kong Oxfam, ICO took on the investigation in mainland of China. The objectives of this report are to find out:
•  How the sourcing practice of international corporation affect Chinese garment industry
•  The real impact on the working and living conditions of the workers (especially women workers)
•  Through the comparative research on sourcing practices of international buyers, agencies and product companies, we hope to understand the real difficulties the workers faced with, and seek the ways and strategies to promote fair trade and strengthen the CSR implementation, and explore the involvement method and prospect to this movement of Chinese civil society and workers.
In May, 2003, the research group led by Dr. Liu Kaiming collected the relevant information and prepared detailed investigation plan. During May to July, the group visited the management and workers of 6 factories in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Huizhou. The group also got some information about another 2 factories from other research report. The report was finished and referred at the end of August, 2003.
The research interviewed relevant personnel in the key positions of the global supply chain in China — 35 managers of suppliers, 170 workers (including 20 product line supervisors) — by field investigation, individual interview, questionnaire, and group discussion. The report shows the heavy burden of drastic competition of international garment market and business risk has been shifted into the workers. The Chinese women workers faced difficult situation: no effective protection on their legal rights, discrimination, economic, living and emotional difficulties aroused by living far from hometown.