Invisible Workers

This miniseries is in partnership with CIVIDEP and it will run throughout the month of May 2020. 

On International Labour Day 2020, we are launching a blog miniseries to amplify the acute struggles of home-based workers in global supply chains. This miniseries will spotlight the realities this particularly at-risk group are facing and reflect on how their situation can be improved moving forward. 

The home-based workforce are an especially vulnerable group of workers in global supply chains. Typically, they work in isolation, in or around their homes producing goods or providing services for a wide range of industries. Most home-based workers are women, who form a large informal global economy of “invisible” workers because they are rarely covered by government and company labour policies. They are often paid piecemeal rates and have little or no access to social protection.

Their already precarious situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that exposes home-based workers to even greater vulnerabilities as brands cancel their orders, leaving workers to face enormous economic losses that threaten their livelihoods. 

This blog series will platform concerns facing home-based workers and share solutions for how the business community and policymakers can respond.

A worker in a small tannery in Chennai. Photo credit: Pradeepan Ravi/CIVIDEP.

Human rights due diligence can help home-based workers hidden in India’s Leather Industry

The Indian leather industry needs a new business model, where brands recognise homeworkers in the supply chain and enable suppliers to be open about hiring homeworkers.

Pradeepan Ravi, CIVIDEP India

 Photo credit: Pradeepan Ravi/ Cividep India.


What would gender-friendly actions for homeworkers look like in a post coronavirus world?

If brands can ensure homeworkers receive a living wage and regular work, this would be life-changing for many women. 

Annie Delaney, RMIT University


Photo credit: Canva.

Unpacking the relationship between homeworking and child workers

Many brands prohibit the use of homeworkers, often as a knee-jerk reaction to the controversial association of homework with child labour. However, there is important new evidence about the real benefits of homework to children's wellbeing.

Lucy Brill, Homeworkers Worldwide

 Photo credit: Pradeepan Ravi, Cividep India.


Organising is essential

It is not just homeworkers, but the brands and suppliers as well who stand to gain from recognising the labour rights of homeworkers.

Pradeepan Ravi, Cividep India; Lucy Brill, Homeworkers Worldwide UK; Annie Delaney, RMIT University Australia.

For the latest news and resources on the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on supply chain workers visit our portal here.