Chapter 1.3 Pricing and sourcing dynamics in Global Supply Chains
Workers rights can be affected by the nature of the activity of each concrete tier of the supply chain as well as by the type of labour practices, independently of the industry.
Let´s take for example the case of workers affected by debt bondage practices and slavery. Only last year, The Guardian uncovered cases in the mica mining in India, that are part of the supply chain of both the cosmetics industry and the automobile industry. Similar practices were also identified in the fish industry in Thailand that affect the food and beverage industry (including both human and pet products). However, working conditions may be very different depending in the mica mining industry and the fish industry. Workers in (artisanal) mining may additional suffer from severe health and safety risks and impacts; whilst dramatic living conditions have been reported in the fishing industry (with people being starved to death, physically abused or even killed).
In my opinion the key difference is (i) the market structure of the companies at the end of the supply chain (number of actors in the market, level of competition, level of cooperation reached in the industry...), (ii) the number and market power of the suppliers and (iii) the traceability opportunities for a given product (both related to the production cycle and the willingness of certain regional authorities to create protected sourcing zones such as the Zero Deforestation Zones). These factors will have a direct impact in the capacity of business companies to influence environmental and social conditions through the supply chain.