Second Garment Worker Diaries Data Release: Linking Workers to Brands

by Guy Stuart
3 weeks ago

Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) and SANEM have released the second round of data from its national Garment Worker Diaries in Bangladesh on the Garment Worker Diaries Data Portal. The data cover the period from July 2018 to March 2019. Workers reported to us each week on what they spent, earned, borrowed, and saved, what money transfers they gave and received, and how many hours they worked. In 2018 we were enrolling new participants every month, starting with about 200 in July and ending with 1,300 in December. From January onwards we have been collecting data from 1,300 respondents.

Adding Brand Information

The updated data portal not only includes data on more workers and for more months, it also allows users to view workers’ economic data by brand. You can select on a brand, such as H&M, Esprit, or Levi Strauss, and see how much the factories from which a brand sources its clothes paid their workers in a particular month and how many hours they worked to earn that pay. You can also see how much the workers spent on food and rent and how much they borrowed and saved.

MFO was able to identify global brands that make their supplier factories public using Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index Report, 2019. We were able to use the Open Apparel Registry to identify brands that source from Bangladesh. In cases where a brand had not uploaded its supplier list to the OAR database, we downloaded the brand’s list directly from their web site, using links in the Fashion Transparency Index Report. We then identified those brands that source from Bangladesh. You can see the results of our efforts by clicking here.

Users of the Garment Worker Diaries data portal should be aware that there are two reasons why a brand might not appear on the data portal.

  1. Many brands that source from Bangladesh do not publish their supplier lists. This means that we cannot provide data on the workers who make clothes for those brands because there is no reliable way to connect the workers to the brands.
  2. There are also brands that simply do not source from Bangladesh and MFO was able to verify this because the brands published their supplier lists.

As we will detail in a later report, it was not easy to match the information on the supplier lists provided by the brands to the public lists of factories published by the government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Accord, and the Alliance. The supplier lists were rife with inconsistent and incomplete names and addresses of factories, making it difficult for us to be sure that the factory where a worker is employed is the same one as the factory identified on a brand’s supplier list. Nevertheless, we were able to identify 575 workers who worked in 174 factories supplying 60 brands. Many of the factories supply more than one brand and in those cases we linked the workers to both brands. For more than half our sample we could not make a brand match. In the coming months we will be looking more closely at the type of factories where these workers work, to see whether they do, in fact, produce directly for brands that do not publish their supplier lists, or are sub-contractors for the large exporting factories.

Take Action

If there is a brand that you buy from or are concerned about that does not publish its supplier list, please contact them to let them know how important it is to be transparent about their suppliers. Fashion Revolution has a set of tools you can use to contact a brand directly (click here) and to connect with government officials who can put laws in place requiring brands to reveal who made the clothes they sell and that you wear (click here).

If you are a brand representative and you do not see your name on the list of brands publishing their supplier lists, please feel free to contact MFO directly (info@mfopps.org), and we can put you on the list and add your supplier data to our brand/factory database.

A Word of Thanks

Without the hard work done by the Fashion Revolution and OAR teams, MFO would not have been able to compile its consolidated table of brands and factories. All three organizations receive funding from C&A Foundation in the name of promoting supply-chain transparency.