Question 2 – what should global supply chain governance look like?
As companies establish the agreements that underpin global supply chains, they must conduct full needs assessments of affected communities so that all groups of people benefit from the arrangements. The top-down system that exists currently has proven problematic because it neglects the needs of the grassroots of the global economy. The planners benefit a lot more than the implementers. We have to flip that equation to improve conditions for workers.
Question 5 – what are the benefits and drawbacks of global supply chains as a 'model' for production and development?
The plusses are that they create job opportunities, particularly for youth, and benefit developing governments in terms of foreign exchange earnings through taxes. However, global supply chains often do not benefit vulnerable groups. In Malawi, these include tenant farmers, small-holder farmers, the widowed, and orphaned children, none of whom are ever consulted and none of whom benefit from the programmes implemented by the major players within global supply chains. This is because the planning of economic systems excludes such vulnerable groups.
The grassroots organisations that work with these groups are also not consulted. In global supply chains, it is very unlikely for freedom of association to be realised or for collective bargaining to take place. Most vulnerable groups, in practice and often in law, do not enjoy the protections of ILO Conventions 87 or 98 on Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining Agreements. For example, in tobacco supply chains, most tobacco companies deny farmworkers and tenant farmers their right to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.