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12 Feb 2016

Sarah Labowitz & Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, New York Univ. Stern Center on Business & Human Rights (USA)

NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights response to Penn State Center for Global Workers' Rights Bangladesh research critique

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We are writing in response to your February 10 critique of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights’ December 2015 report, “Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Bangladesh’s Forgotten Apparel Workers.” We dispute many of your assertions about our work, but are pleased that our research continues to garner significant attention... The headlines of our research are that there are thousands more factories and almost a million more workers producing garments for export than have previously been accounted for by global fashion brands, donor agencies, and academics. We also conclude that there has been a woeful lack of progress in actually fixing unsafe factories...

  • Data quality – ...You make several assumptions about the data that are not supported by evidence presented in your critique.
  • Prevalence of indirect sourcing –... Your critique of our field study relies on...conjecture... we stand by the careful and diligent work of our survey team.
  • Number of workers – ...Your critique suggests that the “best available estimate is 3.85 million workers”... You derive this conclusion by averaging unreliable estimates that pre-date the increased transparency reflected in the availability of online data in the fall of 2014...

In sum, your brief relies on loose assumptions unsupported by evidence to discredit our research and advance a disproven hypothesis that the number of workers and factories in Bangladesh stands at 3.85 million and 5,000, respectively...