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Decent Work in Global Supply Chains

Unit 4, Lecture 4 - Homeworkers in global supply chains

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Informal workers and particularly home-based workers found in large numbers in Asia feeding into manufacturing processes and the clothing industry.

Significant challenge – they are isolated and are often not even recognized as workers, they do not have direct relation with the employer. They are paid by the supplying company and carry all of the risks (electricity, water, etc.)

Homeworkers produce goods for global supply chains from within or around their own homes. Many firms outsource production to homeworkers, especially women, to cut sots, maximize profits and retain flexibility. Under the most common sub-contracting arrangement, the homeworkers provide the workplace, pay for utilities and buy/rent and maintain their own equipment. The contractors provide the work orders and raw materials and specify the products to be made. Most homeworkers are paid by the piece and the piece-rates remain very low.

ILO Convention 177 – global standard on Home Work, 1996 which has been ratified by 10 countries. The implementation and enforcement of legislation to protect homeworkers is limited even where countries have ratified Convention 177.

Most homeworkers do not have contracts, are paid less than factory workers (yet absorb more costs and risks) and do not enjoy the same rights and benefits as factory workers.

Demands
- be recognized as workers
- for the risks and costs to be covered by the core company, health insurance, social security, etc.
- representation of homeworkers
- collective bargaining agreements
- fair piece rates
- protection from harmful practices
- secure, written, transparent contracts
- participation in rule-setting and policymaking processes

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