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Paradoxes of Factory Compliance: Auditing, CSR, and ‘New’ Dispossession

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Part of the Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference book series (ATSIAD)

Abstract

Since 2012, garment factories in Bangladesh have been transforming with factory compliance principles to ensure better working conditions for the workers. The backdrop of such massive ‘changes’ to the production regime was the scale and severity of accidents in the factories that had killed thousands of workers. Moreover, increasingly, the ethical codes of labor practices imposed worldwide by global buyers are reshaping the organization of production and the regimes of labor deployment in the Global Production Networks. Thus, the emphasis on auditing the factories and so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices converged in the production regime and governance. However, based on ethnographic insights, the chapter contends, firstly, the auditing culture is a bureaucratic process that only helps the owners accumulate capital. Secondly, it promises rhetoric of long-term growth and prosperity through which the current crises came about.

Keywords

  • Auditing
  • Bangladesh
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Factory compliance
  • Garment kormi
  • Garment worker
  • Global production network
  • New dispossession
  • Paradox
  • Ready-made garment industry

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Barrientos & Smith, 2007; Blowfield & Dolan, 2008; Lund-Thomsen & Nadvi, 2010; Nadvi, 2008; De Neve, 2014.

  2. 2.

    See http://bangladeshaccord.org/about/ and http://www.bangladeshworkersafety.org/who-we-are/about-the-alliance

  3. 3.

    The well-known business-driven social compliance initiatives are Social Accountability International (SAI), Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Fair Labor Association (FLA), Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), and so on, and the largest corporate-controlled auditing firms include Bureau Veritas, TÜV Rheinland, Underwriter Laboratories (UL), Registro Italiano Navale (RINA), ELEVATE, and so on.

  4. 4.

    In the linking section different knitted panels are linked to produce a complete garment. In this section linking operators link the different panels using linking machines.

  5. 5.

    The Labor Act 2006, which was amended in 2013 (GoB, 2013), stated the following regarding a participation committee: ‘205. 6(a) For an establishment where there is no trade union, until a trade union is formed, the workers’ representatives to the Participation Committee shall run activities related to workers’ interests in the establishment concerned.’ The provision of a participation committee often works as a barrier to establishing trade unions, as the owners liked to focus more on these committees. The law allows a participation committee to represent the workers in negotiation with the employers in absence of a trade union. Participation committees include workers of the employer’s choice and thus cannot ensure the rights of the workers, as is the case with labor welfare committees described in this chapter.

  6. 6.

    In the garment factory, workers are paid by two methods. Some are paid a fixed monthly salary, and some are paid based on how many pieces of the product they produce. The rate of a piece is declared during the first week of each month.

  7. 7.

    For the estimates on declining trend of garment product prices and lead time for production see Anner (2020).

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Correspondence to Mohammad Tareq Hasan .

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Hasan, M.T. (2022). Paradoxes of Factory Compliance: Auditing, CSR, and ‘New’ Dispossession. In: Everyday Life of Ready-made Garment Kormi in Bangladesh. Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99902-5_8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99902-5_8

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-99901-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-99902-5

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