Tag Archives: labour standards

How an Industry Known for Exploiting Workers is Cleaning Up its Act

The cleaning industry has long had a reputation for exploiting workers, as cut-throat competition delivers contracts with profit margins so thin there’s little room to pay cleaners their legal entitlements.

The Cleaning Accountability Framework, with the help of a group of business, law and IT researchers, is making inroads into what has seemed at times an intractable problem.

Dr Martijn Boersma, who lectures in industrial relations and business ethics at the University of Technology Sydney Business School, has been working with CAF and says non-compliance with labour standards has been a big issue in the cleaning industry.

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Submission: Wage Theft Senate Inquiry

Underpayment is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue in Australia, with certain industries and sub-sets of workers more affected than others. Given the increasing prevalence of wage theft, workers can become resigned to accept employment below the minimum wage due to expectations that underpayment is unavoidable. While the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) plays a key role in identifying and rectifying underpayments, increased funding is required to allow it to effectively uncover breaches. Both mandatory and voluntary supply chain measures can play a key role to help target the issue of underpayment. Our submission recommends new legislation be passed to better regulate labour standards and the gig economy, strengthening enforcement of existing regulations.

Wage Theft Submission FINAL

Can Blockchain help to break the chains of modern slavery?

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Global supply chains have struggled to deal with poor working conditions including child labour, forced labour and debt slavery. Julien Harneis/Flickr, CC BY-SA

There’s a good chance the device on which you are reading this contains cobalt. It’s an essential metal for batteries in phones and laptops. There’s also a chance the cobalt was mined by slaves. Continue reading Can Blockchain help to break the chains of modern slavery?

Global Corporations and Global Value Chains – The Disaggregation of Corporations?

The Oxford Handbook of the Corporation assesses the contemporary relevance, purpose, and performance of the corporation. The corporation is one of the most significant, if contested, innovations in human history, and the direction and effectiveness of corporate law, corporate governance, and corporate performance are being challenged as never before. Continuously evolving, the corporation as the primary instrument for wealth generation in contemporary economies demands frequent assessment and reinterpretation.

Read chapter 13: “Global Corporations and Global Value Chains – The Disaggregation of Corporations? on Google Books.

 

 

Apple’s $1 trillion riches based on innovation and exploitation

Apple has become the first American company to reach US$1 trillion in market capitalisation – US$1,000,000,000,000 in stockmarket value. Behind this glittering success, however, lies a series of unresolved ethical dilemmas a history of staggering labour exploitation.

The approaches of Apple and the other giant US platform technology companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon) to corporate taxation, concentration and privacy have attracted widespread criticism.

But as a manufacturing company Apple faces a more deep-seated problem. This involves the millions of people employed in its supply chain, which is largely located in China with the major contractor Foxconn.

Our research shows human rights, environmental and ethical problems persist inside Apple’s vast global supply chains.

Continue reading Apple’s $1 trillion riches based on innovation and exploitation

How to Stop Businesses Stealing from their Employees

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A Senate inquiry has revealed that wage theft and underpayment are so prevalent in some industries that they have become the norm. Around 79% of hospitality employers in Victoria, for instance, did not comply with the national award wage system between 2013 and 2016.

Regulators and unions don’t have the resources to combat this issue, and so we need another method to tackle wage exploitation. One way is to introduce a multi-stakeholder certification scheme, using market forces to reward companies that have committed to fair working conditions and punish those that don’t.

Continue reading How to Stop Businesses Stealing from their Employees

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.

Continue reading Australian government slow to respond to supply chain labour exploitation

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

Ethical Dilemmas in Modern Supply Chains

Modern supply chains are long, complex and global, making it harder for businesses to know who they’re really dealing with, and for consumers to feel confident they’re buying ethically. The negative consequences of that complexity can be as devastating as the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, which galvanised public opinion about the conditions under which our clothing is produced. Revelations about Australia’s food industry in a recent ABC Four Corners report show there are issues to be addressed at home too. So, the conversation has turned to the need to build responsible supply networks and the challenges in doing that. That’s the focus of the Sustainable Supply Network Initiative at UTS Business School and  this #think public lecture.

supply chain lecture UTS

Continue reading Ethical Dilemmas in Modern Supply Chains