This paper develops the concept of labour regimes as an application to better understand multi-stakeholder initiatives that are established to govern labour in global production networks. The labour regimes approach connects both global production dynamics and territorialised economic, political, and social formations in understanding labour outcomes at the workplace. The labour regimes approach helps explicate the intersection of labour, capital, and the state, configured across time and space. I argue that such an analytical approach can reveal often contested, and sometimes obscured relations between stakeholders and how they shape the progress and the sustainability of multi-stakeholder initiatives. I make this case by taking the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in the Bangladeshi apparel industry as an empirical case example. This study takes a different approach from the existing works on the Accord. With the Accord having completed its tenure in 2019, this paper specifically focuses on the absence of two key national stakeholders - the state and manufactures from the Steering Committee of the Accord, and examines how this absence affected the Accord’s ability to deliver its objectives. Based on qualitative research in and around the Dhaka garment cluster, the paper demonstrates that this absence of the state and manufacturers engendered paradoxical outcomes. While it helped the Accord successfully implement its building safety program in the short-term, the transition of the Accord at the end of its tenure, and thus its long-term sustainability was affected by the lack of commitment of the state and manufacturers to the Accord’s mandate.
- Multi-stakeholder initiatives
- Apparel industry
- Labour regimes