more criticisms of the way companies are managing their monitoring and compliance efforts. An enormous number of codes, which tend to vary only slightly in most areas, are being monitored in many different ways. For some factory managers, the variance in monitoring programs is causing as much trouble as the proliferation of codes. The codes themselves have been criticized for what they don’t do:

  • They are not transparent or democratic.

  • They do not include sanctions.

  • They do not extend far enough down the supply chain (that is, they ignore the commodity or raw material end).

  • They do not improve the management systems of suppliers; the factories spend so much time focusing on passing the innumerable audits that they have no time to address systemic issues.

  • They do not include workers and local governments in the process (including local governments would bolster the codes’ enforcement capabilities).

Ms. O’Brien noted that among the most common and serious problems in supply chains are violations related to wages and freedom of association. To overcome these problems, companies should take part in improving the capacity of local and national governments to enforce labor laws and the ability of NGOs to monitor them. If companies would also collaborate, this could help surmount the problem for smaller companies, which are not large enough to exert any real influence on supplier factories. Finally, companies should pressure their home country governments to get involved, especially through trade agreements; one excellent example is the trade agreement between Cambodia and the United States, in which the United States has offered the incentive of increased trade if Cambodia respects internationally recognized workers’ rights.

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