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Prof Doug Miller

Professor in Workers Rights in Fashion

Department: Northumbria School of Design

Professor Doug Miller has 30 years experience in teaching, researching and communicating on the issues surrounding equality, corporate responsibility and industrial relations.  In 2000, Doug was seconded from Northumbria University to the Brussels based Global Union: International Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation – an organisation that represents over 230 trade unions in 110 countries worldwide.  Over the next 8 years he worked as Research Director, co-ordinating research projects into supply chain developments in the textile, clothing and footwear sectors.   This culminated in the development of the first international framework agreement in the sector between the Global Union and Inditex S.A. – the Spanish multinational and world’s largest retailer.  It also led to their joint sponsorship of Doug’s role here at Northumbria School of Design.

Doug is involved with the Capturing the Gains Research Network.  Funded to the tune of £1.4m by DFID, this network is undertaking a major investigation into the factors which affect social and economic upgrading in the supply chains of a range of global industries including apparel.

Doug Miller

BA (Hons), PhD

My current focus is on a specific feature of buying behavior in the UK fashion retail industry: the negotiation of a manufacturing price (CMT cost) with suppliers which does not separately itemize labour cost. This practice, tacitly supported by both buyers and suppliers, is examined against the backdrop of ongoing wage defaulting and import price deflation in the global apparel industry. Whilst wage non compliance cannot be solely explained by this buying practice, since other commercial practices and factors may have an equal if not greater impact on a supplier’s liquidity/ability to pay on time and in full, my argument is that an absence of labour costing must inevitably have an effect on the capacity of a factory to deliver an order at a negotiated price and to meet compliance benchmarks at the same time.

I have developed a formula for sustainable labour pricing at the buyer end using industrial engineering principles which appear to have been lost in the truncation of buying firms caused by international sourcing. This methodology, which can be used to calculate a living wage, has implications for international buying practice and for organized labour in the international global apparel industry and has the potential to accelerate a trend already underway in the sector towards greater consolidation and collaboration between buyers and suppliers in the manufacture of apparel.

My other major interest focuses on the growing  preoccupation in  parts of the Global fashion business with labelling  - as signalled by the moves by Transfair in the USA to pilot the extension of their social label from cotton growing to other parts of the supply chain including apparel assembly.

His key focus is on the area of working conditions and governance in apparel supply chains and covers issues such as;

- Sustainable labour costing in apparel
- Economic and social upgrading in global value chains in the clothing industry
- The establishment of international and cross border dialogues and global framework agreements between multinationals and global unions.


Doug teaches aspects of ethical fashion across a number of undergraduate and postgraduate fashion courses

DE0858 Design Realisation and Promotion 1 (BA Hons Fashion Marketing)
DE0861 Design Realisation and Promotion 2 (BA Hons Fashion Marketing)
DE1118 Ethical and Environmental Values (MA Fashion Management and Entrepreneurship)

- Stephanie Barrientos Brookes World Poverty Institute

- Gary Gerrefi – Duke University

- Arianne Rossi  - Better Work Initiative ILO, Geneva

- Marsha Dickson University of Delaware

- Jennifer Lynn Bair -   University of Colorado

- Dev Nathan – Institute for Human Development, New Delhi, India

The ITGLWF’s policy on cross-border dialogue in the apparel and textile sector: Emerging strategies in a sector ruled by codes of conduct and resistant companies.

(Papadakis, K. (ed.) 2008.)

Cross-border social dialogue and agreements: an emerging global industrial relations framework?

International Institute for Labour Studies (IILS) Research Series, Geneva: IILS/ILO.

What Price a Living Wage?  Implementation Issues in the Quest for Decent Wages in the Global Apparel Sector. 
(joint with Peter Williams)

Global Social Policy Vol. 9 NO.1 pp 99-125

Coming Soon...

Doug is also working on a book about the 2005 Spectrum Factory Disaster entitled Zero Fifty  Hours in Palashbari which is due for publication later this year.

Full list available at Northumbria Research Link (NRL)

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