Circuits of Global Labour Governance: Public Procurement and Labour Standards in the Global Electronics Industry (a CASE project with Electronics Watch)
The globalisation of supply chains has created a governance deficit concerning working conditions in the world economy. Private-sector initiatives (corporate social responsibility and codes of conduct) face limits to improving labour standards. Yet, little attention has been paid to public sector attempts to regulate working conditions in global supply chains. An EU Directive on Public Procurement, however, allows state organisations to include clauses on labour standards in procurement contracts. In this context, this project will examine socially responsible public procurement of electronics hardware – an industry mired by serious labour violations – and focuses on the state as a regulator and buyer. The research will be carried out with Electronics Watch, a non-profit, non-governmental initiative which organises public sector buyers, provides tools to create effective market demand for decent working conditions (e.g. contract clauses), and monitors working conditions to ensure compliance in factories. The project will examine: how the EU Directive is being implemented by public-sector buyers in the United Kingdom; how the governance framework impacts lead firm and supplier relationships in the sector; and the experience of public procurement regulation as an emergent new relationship between the state, public sector governance and labour conditions in globalised production networks.
10 – International Development, Conflict & Human Security