chapter  8
12 Pages

The private regulation of labour standards: The case of the apparel and footwear industries

ByJEROEN MERK

The failure of governmental and intergovernmental institutions to implement effective labour legislation in the course of the last decade has resulted in a rich variety of private (or non-governmental) regulatory initiatives that seek to address labour standards and enforcement in a wide range of global product chains. Such regulation is not least aimed at deflecting anti-sweatshop campaigns attacking the substandard working conditions in the factories at the far ends of global commodity chains, which threaten to turn feel-good logos of the large corporations running them into symbols of exploitation and human degradation. However, I will argue that the non-governmental regulatory systems that have emerged in the process represent not only terrains of struggle but also nodes of collaboration between different social and economic forces that could potentially have an emancipatory impact for workers and civil society.