Transparency in supply chains and the lived experiences of workers and their families in the garment sectors of Bangladesh and Myanmar

by Leona Vaughn, Alex Balch, Jennifer Johns and Samantha Currie

31 May 2019
Journal of the British Academy
Number of pages
26 (pp. 35-60)

Pages in this section

Abstract: This article explores the issue of transparency in supply chains for garment sector workers in two countries (Bangladesh and Myanmar). Drawing upon over 100 qualitative fieldwork interviews with workers and stakeholders, the article details the lived experiences of workers and their families. Their stories unveil the impact of factory operating practices and culture in a ‘gendered workplace’ on individuals and communities. Worker narratives are analysed to reflect upon the bearing of enhanced requirements on business stemming from the ‘Transparency in Supply Chains’ clause of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. The article presents evidence regarding the impacts of work in the garment sector in Myanmar and Bangladesh on the lives of workers, their children, and family life. The findings offer insights into the reality of the gendered workplace in supply chains for products manufactured in countries that are then exported to UK and worldwide markets. The discussion reflects on the value and appropriateness of transparency as a tool to address exploitation faced by workers in these sectors.

Keywords: Supply chains, transparency, modern slavery, exploitation, gender, children, garment sector.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 7,
supplementary issue 1 (Tackling Modern Slavery: Problems and Possibilities).

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