ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Negotiating Ethical Codes on the Factory Floors

Garments without Guilt? Global Labour Justice and Ethical Codes in Sri Lankan Apparels by Kanchana N Ruwanpura, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, New Delhi and Singapore: Cambridge University Press, 2022; pp xxvi + 198, $99 (hardback).

Kanchana N Ruwanpura in Garments without Guilt? Global Labour Justice and Ethical Codes in Sri Lankan Apparels examines the claims that unethical labour circumstances are not part of the Sri Lankan clothing industry’s client base, instead emphasising that ethicality, environmentally friendly manufactu­ring, and pristine working conditions exist.

This book, which is the first of its type to be written on the subject, discusses how the sector’s locally developed ethical norms are mirrored (or not) in personal encounters at the factories. The subject of the book is Sri Lanka’s Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) programme “Garments without Guilt” (thus the book’s title), which seeks to position Sri Lanka as a centre for fair trade for high-end labels and worldwide high-street outlets. Sri Lanka was actually marketed by JAAF as “the world’s first ethical apparel sourcing location.” Drawing on over a decade of fieldwork and data collection, this book makes a significant contribution to the larger literature on labour governance and labour geography with its in-depth focus on the lives of workers in garment industries in Sri Lanka, elaborating on their struggles and victories, and arguing that worker movements and agency play an equally, if not more, important role in advancing Sri Lanka’s success in upholding health and safety standards as industry-led initiatives, while elaborating on the success from a social, structural, and labour standpoint. Additionally, Ruwanpura makes a strong argument that shop floor issues like livable wages, humane treatment, and freedom of association are ethical codes that continue to be part of the ongoing struggle for workers in the garment industry.

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Updated On : 10th Apr, 2023
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