The rise of Global Value Chains (GVC) has created an enormous challenge for labour governance, in a premise that ‘race-to-the-bottom’ dynamics undermined states capacity to provide labour protections, while multinational corporations are attracted in a brutal competition in a search for costs reduction. Hence, labour governance in the global sphere has been a complex arena of contestation. In particular, transnational activists networks have significant importance in engaging over decisions and behaviour of multinational companies. Much has been achieved about awareness raising. However, the consequences of the labour governance gap persist. The aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 has pushed activists for new proposals for change. Campaigns for corporate accountability claiming for extraterritorial liability opened up new spaces for mobilisation. In Europe, anti-sweatshop movements, concerned with precarious working conditions in the garment sector, have demonstrated a prominent role in policy reform. This research discusses the elements that were conducive to activists’ mobilisations on policy change, and the processes and results of contestation that involved two emergent cases: The French Law on Duty of Vigilance (2017) and The Bangladesh Accord (2013). This analysis contributes to reflect on the challenges of transnational labour governance in providing comprehensive responses and improve labour conditions, from the side of the European anti-sweatshop movement, with particular attention to the neo-Gramscian framework in GVC. This study identified that there is a complex dynamic of interactions, including internal and external network aspects, both at the international and national level that shape activists’ mobilisation on policy change. It identifies that activists achieved meaningful progress on extraterritorial liability creating new venues for mobilisations. However, claims to sustain long-term structural changes are commonly constrained by powerful elites, and substantial challenges are critically undermined. Addressing such challenges is crucial if activists want to achieve their claims for change.

Additional Metadata
Keywords global value chains, transnational labour governance, anti-sweatshop movement, French Law on Duty of Vigilance, The Bangladesh Accord, Rana Plaza, UNGP, neo-Gramscian, hegemony, passive revolution, social movements, activism
Thesis Advisor Knorringa, Peter
Persistent URL
Series Governance and Development Policy (GDP)
Assahira, Marine. (2018, December 17). Activism and enforcement mechanisms in the Garment Transnational Labour Governance : The European anti-sweatshop movement. Governance and Development Policy (GDP). Retrieved from