Achieving Workers Rights in the Global Economy


Jenny Chan (Oxford University), Sanchita Banerjee Saxena (UC Berkeley), Scott Nova (Worker Rights Consortium)

Thursday, October 9, 12:00-2:00pm — location: Social Science & Media Studies Bldg, 2nd Floor, SSMS 2135

This panel features three leading scholar-activists concerned with labor abuses in the East and South Asian supply chains that provide most of the apparel and consumer electronics we consume. Since the April 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza industrial building in Dhaka, Bangladesh – possibly the worst factory disaster in history, claiming more than 1,100 lives – steps have been made to hold brands and retailers responsible for the independent contract factories that provide the labor. This panel will provide an insiders’ understanding of what goes on in those factories, and what is being done – by workers and NGO activists – to improve working conditions.

Jenny Chan, “Dying for an iPhone: The Hidden Struggle of China’s High-Tech Workers”

Jenny Chan is Departmental Lecturer in Contemporary China Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, Oxford University. Jenny was a Reid Research Scholar while pursuing her PhD at the University of London. In 2013-2014 she received the prestigious Great Britain-China Educational Award. Currently she serves as Board Member of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Labor Movements (2014-2018) and Advisor to SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior), an organization she co-founded, which exposed the suicides of despondent workers making iPhones at the giant Foxconn factory in Shenzhen.  She has recently completed a book with the same title as her presentation.


Sanchita Banerjee Saxena, “Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka: The Labor Behind the Global Garment and Textile Industries”

Sanchita Banerjee Saxena is the Executive Director of the Institute for South Asia Studies (ISAS) at the University of California at Berkeley and the director of the Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies under the ISAS. Prior to joining ISAS, she was the assistant director of Economic Programs at the Asia Foundation. In both 2010 and 2014, Dr. Saxena was a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. She holds a PhD in political science from UCLA. Her commentaries have been featured in the New York TimesEconomic and Political WeeklyThompson ReutersThe Daily Star and aired on Voice of America, LinkTV, KQED World, and KPFA. She has recently completed a book with the same title as her presentation.


Scott Nova, “Rana Plaza, a Year Later: Will the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety Make a Difference in Workers’ Lives?”

Scott Nova is the Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a non-profit organization that investigates working conditions in factories around the world producing goods for the US market. The WRC promotes respect for workers rights on behalf of more than 175 universities and colleges and is the only factory monitoring organization operating on a global level that accepts no funding from industry. A public interest advocate for more than twenty years, Nova is a specialist on international trade, labor rights and corporate accountability issues. He has been directly involved in negotiating the historic Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, now signed by more that 150 brands and retailers, following the tragic Rana Plaza collapse in April, 2013, that claimed 1,132 lives and injured thousands others.

Sponsors: MacArthur Foundation Chairs Richard Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein, and the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies

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Ben Smith
Ben Smith
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