Tag Archives: forced labour

Australian Government Must Protect Vulnerable Workers in Supply Chains

Image: Pro Bono Australia
Image: Pro Bono Australia

There are more people subjected to slavery-like practices today than at any time in history: almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour.

Due to complex and opaque supply chains, something you wear, eat or drink may very well have touched the hands of a person, even a child, working under duress and in hazardous conditions.

These human rights abuses are linked to Australian companies, investors, government and consumers through global supply chains: 60 per cent of trade in the real economy depends on the supply chains of 50 companies, which only employ 6 per cent of workers directly.

A total of 11.7 million victims of forced labour and 78 million child labourers are located in the Asia-Pacific region. Given the fact that seven countries in this region comprise Australia’s top 10 import sources, Australian companies and government have a responsibility to meet these human rights abuses head on.

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Australian government slow to respond to supply chain labour exploitation

Rescue workers and volunteers search by hand for victims amongst the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeff Holt
Rescue workers and volunteers search by hand for victims amongst the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeff Holt

Sunday marks three years since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. This disaster led to the tragic loss of 1130 lives, left 2500 injured, and sparked a global debate about workers’ rights and ethical labour standards in low-wage countries. In Australia, civil society organisations such as Baptist World Aid and Oxfam lead the charge to expose labour abuses and improve working conditions in global supply chains. But thus far the government has been largely absent form this debate and has been slow to act.

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The 2022 World Cup Tarnished by Labour Exploitation in Qatar

A recent report by Amnesty International details evidence of the systematic exploitation of migrant  workers building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The amount of workers is expected to grow ten-fold to around 36,000 in the coming two years. An earlier report by the International Trade Union Confederation says 1,200 migrant workers from India and Nepal have died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Cup, and it estimates that 4,000 migrant workers will die by the time the first game is played in 2022. The Qatar 2022 organising committee has appointed Impactt to provide oversight and monitor workers’ rights on the back of a damning report by Amnesty International. Catalyst Australia researcher spoke to on about labour standards in Qatar

Global supply chains link us all to shame of child and forced labour

The fragmentation of global production has dramatically increased the length and complexity of supply chains. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that more than half of the world’s manufactured imports are intermediate goods. These are used as inputs in the production of other goods, sourced from different parts of the globe.

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