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Market Research Group

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Julian Bell
Julian Bell

Supply Chain Homeworkers Fixed

In addition to the Standards, Nest is also releasing its Homeworker Guidance Toolkit which outlines the actionable steps brands can take from first identifying informal production within a supply chain to remediating against any risks. The Nest Code of Conduct, Standards and Supply Chain Definitions are also available to interested partners.

supply chain homeworkers

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Homeworker Guidance ToolkitThe Homeworker Guidance Toolkit provides actions brands can take when home or small workshop based production is identified within a supply chain. Offers recommendations and best practices for increasing transparency around key areas of compliance while mitigating risk.

Supply Chain Mapping ToolThe Supply Chain Mapping Tool was designed to conduct preliminary mapping of a handwork supply chain and to understand the scope of worker production within small workshops or homes and the number and size of any subcontracted tiers.

Nest Craft Risk Matrix The Nest Craft Risk Matrix helps brands to quickly understand the common level of compliance risk within a supply chain based on the type of craft, production and risk area.

On November 4, Nest and The Centre for Child Rights and Business along with Williams-Sonoma, Inc. convened an expert panel to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with homeworking supply chains. Access the key findings and the recording.

Nest has worked diligently to change the narrative around the informal economy and elevate the dignity of workers. By mapping intricate handicraft supply chains, providing targeted compliance training for handicraft vendors, and building a network of responsible handicraft businesses, Nest has established the systems, tools, and expertise to guide artisans, brands, and industry organizations into a new production frontier.

Fueled by a belief in the opportunity that inclusive work structures have to advance businesses led by and employing women and BIPOC community members, Nest is leading this movement to champion the work of artisans and handworkers in informal and home-based supply chains around the globe.

This is a 19-minute lesson. Dr. Lucy Brill and Peter Williams from advocacy organisation Homeworkers Worldwide joined us to explain what a "homeworker" and "homeworking" is within the textile and apparel supply chain, and how to recognise then support this role within your own production.

Homeworkers Worldwide works to support homeworkers and their organisations in their struggle for rights and respect. HWW conducts advocacy campaigns for better regulation of supply chains so that homeworkers rights are respected, and consumer campaigns targeting companies to pressure them to improve conditions in their supply chains.

Despite their crucial role in garment supply chains, homeworkers are denied their rights as workers. So that means no sick pay, no maternity pay, no entitlement to a pension or other social security and no guarantee of work.

With the whole garment industry in lockdown, homeworkers like Bhavna, Ankita, Amita and Kanchan are some of the most vulnerable people in the whole system. Work has just stopped, and it is very unlikely that any benefits or compensation agreed between brands and suppliers will find its way to their families.

Imagine a 200 square-foot one-window room with a view of the garbage pile at the dumping ground a few kilometres away, a railway track on one side, and a road bustling with traffic on the other. This single room with a kitchen in one corner turns into a workplace for women in the seven-member household and a place for all day-to-day activities of the family. This is the reality of many homeworkers who engage in piecework for national and global retailers in the urban centres of India. While the exodus of migrants from cities during the COVID-19 lockdown in India made it to international news, the

In addition to the physical overlap of home and workspace, the socio-cultural realm of production and social reproduction are also intertwined. Homeworkers produce goods in their homes that are incorporated into global supply chains, highlighting the simultaneous pressures shouldered by the women. The nature of homework enables women to adjust their production activities to the needs of gendered social reproduction responsibilities; however, this strategy limits women to the domestic sphere (4). Thus, the meagre income, gendered responsibilities, and the informal nature of their work make it difficult for them to break out of the vicious cycle of deprivation they are in, reinforcing their position as a cheap workforce that can be easily exploited.

Positioning the homeworkers as the primary stakeholder, let us consider the associated actors who impact their position in the labour chain and discuss their involvement. The transnationality of the supply chain makes the lead firms and primary contractors untraceable and devoid of accountability. Subcontractors cut down both wage and non-wage costs and avoid risk by putting out the labour-intensive assembly work to homeworkers (5). The responsibility of buying machinery, other production-related accessories and their upkeep are shifted onto the homeworkers, thus

Family members are intricately woven into the production sphere due to this overlap. Women often recruit their mothers and daughters-in-law and children to assist with production activities to produce more pieces to supplement their household income (7). Thus, homework acts as a means for the reproduction of a caste-like identity based on livelihood. The reasons for social backwardness are reproduced due to the menial economic returns and informality, thus making the families doubly vulnerable. Additionally, these spaces become hidden avenues for use of child labour in the supply chain which often go unidentified by the labour regulation frameworks of global retailers and corporations.

The issues faced by homeworkers, like the homeworkers themselves, are invisible, to public policy as they are obscured by prevailing social norms. Humanizing the issues would mean focusing analysis on social inequalities that exist in addition to the difficulties induced by production networks. Hence, the social vulnerability of homeworkers brought about by context and actors, as discussed above, is at the core of the issues faced by homeworkers.

The precariousness of homework results from the layering of unreliable labour processes on top of pre-existing socio-economic and gendered vulnerabilities. The invisibility of homeworkers can be addressed only through their organization. The avenues for collective bargaining and organization of homeworkers to voice their opinion and raise demands, not only to the global retail supply chains but also to governments are gaining strength. Organizations such as WIEGO,

Most supply chain employees perform their work using corporate supply chain software, ERPs, and other systems. If these are already in the cloud, it's relatively easy to set up remote access. While not as simple, the same applies to on-premise software. Paperless organizations have a distinct advantage, but it's possible to scan and email documents between employees working remotely. Note that there will always be a small core of workers such as IT experts, maintenance staff and supervisors at work to resolve any issues.

Few supply chains can afford to shut down and lose business for several weeks or months. For this reason, it's essential you take pre-emptive steps to maintain output and manage logistics during the coronavirus epidemic. While the primary purpose of working remotely is to reduce the risk of infection, it's possible to keep supply chains operational by proactively planning for coronavirus. Although there are diverse opinions about the impact of coronavirus, cases to date suggest that the number of U.S. infections are still increasing exponentially. Based on the experience of countries such as China and Korea, the U.S. is a long way off from containing the epidemic. The best thing supply chain leaders can do is to protect employees and set up remote working structures to keep supply chains running.

Rather than switch suppliers, Kara encourages apparel retailers to formalize home-based employment into their supply chains. Only by demanding greater transparency from their Tier 1 suppliers can Western importers improve conditions in the informal sector (related: Social Compliance for Garment Factories: How to Avoid Disasters).

Existing data suggests that approximately 5 percent of labour force in Northern countries is comprised of homeworkers with exception of Australia having 20 percent of homeworkers (Felstead et al., 2000). Data from developing countries is even patchier but estimated figures reveal that there are some 8 million in the Philippines, 20 million in China, and 30 million homeworkers in India (Freeman, 2003).

Homeworking Women will be of interest to individuals and organisations working with or for the collective benefit of homeworkers, academics and students interested in feminism, labour regulation, informal work, supply chains and social and political justice.

The two-year pilot initiative implemented by Goodweave, was designed to establish a new sourcing system, which over time will increase apparel supply chain visibility and offer improved working conditions for homeworkers.

Disenchantment with traditional income-based measures of well-being has led to the search for alternative measures. Two major alternative measures of well-being come from subjective well-being research and the objective capability approach. The capability approach has been largely discussed in the context of development studies and economics and is mainly used within quantitative frameworks, but it also raises many questions that are worthy of discussion from a sociological perspective as well. This study opts for a qualitative approach to transpose capability approach in order to assess the well-being of female homeworkers in the football industry of Pakistan. The aim of this empirical research is to focus on the capabilities of homeworkers in accessing economic, individual, social and psychological aspects of well-being.


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