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Many of the Rana Plaza workers in Bangladesh feared they would lose their jobs if they didn't go to work at the unsafe factory building. This idea of relying on poorly paid workers, who risk death to be paid little more than minimum wage, brings up the elephant in the room: when people need to survive, they'll do whatever they have to do.
Online auditing tools flip the tables a bit and provide buyers with access to comprehensive information about participating suppliers, including company profiles, quality compliance and reputational risk issues associated with social, environmental and security programs.
Some companies such as M&S and Patagonia are willing to try supply chain tools designed to help give typically under-represented garment workers a voice. M&S has announced it will use mobile technology to gather feedback directly from 22,500 workers in its clothing supply chains in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Four surveys are planned a year with no cost to workers using the technology, and a minimal cost for Marks & Spencer suppliers to receive the summary data.
Fiona Sadler, head of ethical sourcing at M&S, said: "It's not about checking up on our suppliers; it's about making sure we're doing the right things for the workers in our supply chain and giving them a voice."
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