Improving Working Conditions in Cambodian Garment Factories: A Framework with Consumers in Mind, Elizabeth Anne Otten

Since the 1990’s, Cambodian garment factories have been under increased scrutiny due
to scandals and tragedies that have plagued the industry. CSR initiatives, including codes of conduct and social audits, were introduced by Brands in an attempt to self-monitor their supply chains, while conveniently doubling as a way to improve and protect their image. Soon after, Brands turned to MSIs to supplement their CSR activities, and create more holistic initiatives by including stakeholders with practical, in-depth knowledge on the issues. Despite these efforts, factory workers still experience poor working conditions, excessive overtime, low wages, work- related illnesses and injuries, and discrimination. It is hypothesized that there is a better way to improve working conditions in garment factories than the initiatives currently in place. After on the ground research and a literature review, it is clear that consumers need to be better informed. The analysis shows that unions and suppliers want a direct line to consumers, and when consumers talk, brands listen. From these themes and the lessons learned from the literature review, a new initiative is proposed.

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