Newswise – Researchers at North Carolina State University have conducted an in-depth study to establish all the steps garment factories will need to take to comply with international labor standards. The study is a first step towards determining what such compliance would cost consumers and building support to make the necessary changes.
âPeople talk about improving standards for workers in garment factories, but it comes at a cost,â says Rob Handfield, corresponding author of the study. âIf we are serious about improving standards, we need to determine what those costs are and mobilize support to pay for those costs.
âThis article lays the foundations for this work. It doesn’t calculate exact costs, but – for the first time – describes everything that needs to be done in garment factories to comply with international labor standards: fair pay, working conditions, fire safety, etc. Handfield is Emeritus Professor of Supply Chain Operations and Management at the Bank of America University at the Poole College of Management in the State of North Carolina.
For the study, the researchers interviewed 15 professionals experienced in auditing garment factories to determine how well they comply with international labor standards. The aim of the survey was to identify all the actions that factories would need to take to at least comply with these standards, with particular emphasis on actions that would result in expense.
The researchers conducted several rounds of the survey with each study participant to ensure a thorough understanding of the relevant issues.
“There are eight international labor standards that apply here, and we were able to identify several actions that would incur costs for each of those standards,” said Rejaul Hasan, lead author of the article and former doctorate. student at NC State. “However, the number of costs associated with meeting each standard would vary from plant to plant, depending on what actions they have already taken, if any.”
“This is the first detailed taxonomy of all the potential costs associated with a factory doing the bare minimum to comply with international standards,” says Marguerite Moore, study co-author and professor of Textiles and Apparel, Technology and management in North Carolina. Wilson State College of Textiles. “So this is a big step forward. But it is a first step forward.
The team’s upcoming research is applying the taxonomy to individual plants to see what the costs would be for each plant. The researchers also plan to use the taxonomy to determine what compliance would mean in terms of cost for each finished garment.
âUltimately, all of this will inform our understanding of what needs to be done to implement the changes related to responsible clothing sourcing,â Hasan said. âWhat do we need in terms of policy changes? What do we need from brands and investors? What needs to be done to build consumer support?
âWe need to answer all of these questions if we are to implement real change,â says Handfield.
The study, “Establish operational standards for the implementation of labor rights standards in the production of low cost clothing, âIs published in open access in the journal Durability.