Transforming labour standards to labour rights

Smith, Mark J. and Pangsapa, Piya (2011). Transforming labour standards to labour rights. In: Yanacopulos, Helen and Voiculescu, Aurora eds. The Business of Human Rights: An Evolving Agenda for Corporate Responsibility. London, UK: Zed Publications, pp. 55–78.



The idea of corporate responsibility has had some concrete effects, but much depends on the willingness of a company to develop robust codes of conduct and to monitor its own activities and those of its subsidiaries, as well as contracted outsourced manufacturers and suppliers.The argument developed here is that labour rights should be central to business ethics. Labour advocates and labour organisations feel that independent monitoring and verification of factories can only be effective if codes of responsible conduct are properly implemented.In raising awareness of labour standards violations in developing countries, local, regional and international labour advocacy groups have highlighted the working and living conditions of those who ‘labour behind the label’. This chapter provides case studies in Asia and Africa on how these groups are now moving from advocacy into partnerships. For ‘labour rights’ to become properly established, however, we need not just binding international agreements, but also legal provisions at other levels.

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