Blockchain-enabled digital platform aims to improve labour practices

Human rights non-profit Social Accountability International (SAI) is currently accepting applications from garment manufacturers in Bangladesh and India to test a revolutionary blockchain-based platform designed to improve labor practices within the apparel manufacturing sector.

The Production Capacity digital platform was built by Social Accountability International (SAI) with technology partner, Vertru, with the purpose of improving labor standards and working conditions in the apparel industry while also enabling bottom-line economic benefits. It is free to use for garment producers in Bangladesh and India, who enjoy priority access to digital tools and free training. The Platform connects buyers and suppliers, allowing buyers to gain a better understanding of their supply chains and rewarding ethical suppliers with access to buyers. A Production Capacity Calculator is included, as well as a tool for enhancing capacity measuring and forecasting techniques.

Faced with a variety of business pressures, apparel supply chain manufacturers frequently take on more orders than they can handle, putting them at risk of excessive overtime, unauthorized subcontracting, and forced labor, as well as health and safety issues, employee burnout, absenteeism, and lower productivity. The Platform aims to solve these issues by reducing superfluous, last-minute orders, allowing for appropriate subcontracting, and optimizing improvements and capacity without compromising quality. The project also focuses on purchasing methods, encouraging buyers and suppliers to work together on sourcing and production processes to ensure social compliance and benefit both parties.

The Platform was inspired by developments such as Hotels.com and other platforms that have revolutionized how businesses optimize their capacity and attract more clients. Unlike existing platforms, it will allow manufacturers to select how much information about their operations they disclose with the public, assist suppliers in meeting social compliance obligations and managing expectations, and improve production planning to minimize overextension.

Louis Vanegas, Senior Director at SAI, said that this is a fantastic chance for suppliers to obtain a better understanding of their own production capacity, planning, and operations. With the Calculator, they’ll be able to consider important inputs that they otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

Even if a facility has no severe concerns about excessive work hours or unauthorized subcontracting to meet deadlines, there are still many ways to benefit from this project, including increased exposure to buyers, Better production planning, Better control of production, Direct communication with buyers, Pricing leverage, Free training and tools, and Ability to showcase commitment to compliance (certifications, associations, and initiatives you are a part of).

Stephanie Wilson, Associate Director of Innovation and Partnerships at SAI, said that this platform promotes enhanced transparency, prudent subcontracting, and supplier control over their available capacity. With these procedures in place, buyers and suppliers can show that they are doing their due diligence on forced labor and other labor hazards even at the bottom tiers of the supply chain.

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