Question 2 – what should global supply chain governance look like?
Foreign investment in China has contributed to economic development, provided employment opportunities and improved families’ incomes. But it has also come with labour rights violations. Wages, benefits and working conditions are all far from ideal. The early years of efforts to improve labour conditions in global supply chains in China relied on third-party monitoring such as SA8000 auditing and certification; and indeed this was effective to some degree. But as labour relations have evolved, these models can no longer play a key role. The involvement of local Chinese labour NGOs will be more effective. This is because, contrary to corporate social responsibility (CSR) organisations, labour NGOs are more capable and credible from a workers’ perspective. SA8000 does not presently have a credible reputation in China: it is easily caught up in conflicts of interest and it is not very transparent.