Tag Archives: Martijn Boersma

Review of “Addressing Modern Slavery” in Journal of Industrial Relations

Modern slavery has gained attention in scholarship, legislation and media in recent years – and rightly so. As Nolan and Boersma discuss, the term ‘modern slavery’ is not unproblematic but is now commonly used to refer to several practices, including forced labour, bonded labour, trafficking, child slavery and forced marriage (pp. 7–8). The book is extremely timely and of particular interest in Australia since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act (Cth) 2018. This Act requires large businesses and the Commonwealth government to report on risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains (including overseas) and steps they are taking to address them. The first reports under the Act are due in 2020.

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Melbourne Asia Review on Addressing Modern Slavery

Addressing Modern Slavery provides important insights into the complexities that perpetuate slavery in a contemporary context, long after it was officially abolished. This book confronts the dark side of development that comes with intractable, complex, multi-tiered global supply chains. In particular, it highlights that global supply chains not only link us to modern slavery, but frequently generate the preconditions necessary for modern slavery to flourish in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining, which account for the majority of slaves in the world. Governments can also be complicit: while modern slavery can be connected to companies and consumers through supply chains, there are also governments that actively promote and benefit from slave labour.

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Addressing Modern Slavery at Adelaide Writers’ Week

“Does our globalised economy rely on the exploitation of the vulnerable? Are we, as consumers, an intrinsic part of chains of supply and complicity that keep 40 million people enslaved? Justine Nolan and Martijn Boersma wrote Addressing Modern Slavery to define and dissect a phenomenon we think of as remote but is more prevalent than at any time in human history. Based on years of forensic research, this impressive book is mandatory reading for anyone committed to ending exploitation and the scourge of modern slavery.”

Coronavirus Hits Precarious Workers in Supply Chains Hardest

Computer chip and circuit board factory, Jiangxi, China. Shutterstock

The COVID-19 coronavirus is officially a pandemic, the US and Australian share markets have collapsed, both governments have unveiled stimulus packages, and Australia’s trade union movement is worried about the position of casuals. But things are worse overseas, including for the workers who make products for Australians.

20,000 garment workers in Cambodia face job losses from factory closures because of shortages of raw materials from China and reduced orders from buyers in the virus-affected locations including the United States and Europe. Thousands have already lost their jobs in Myanmar. Garment workers in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are uncertain of their futures.

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Employer Calls to Simplify the Award System are a Trojan Horse

This week an already impressive list of wage theft offenders has gotten a bit longer.

On Monday, the likes of Caltex, 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and Bunnings (to name a few), were joined by Coles, which underpaid its staff $20 million over six years.

On Wednesday, Target admitted to underpaying workers about $9 million.

On Thursday, Super Retail Group – whose brands include Rebel and Super Cheap Auto, said that it had short-changed workers by $8 million more than it had originally estimated, bringing the total to $61.2 million.

On Friday, cleaning and catering company Spotless admitted to underpaying workers $4 million.

The total wage theft uncovered this week: $94.2 million.

Continue reading Employer Calls to Simplify the Award System are a Trojan Horse

Interview on 2SER The Daily: The Rise of Wage Theft Scandals, Will They Ever End?

Last week has seen the list of wage theft offenders get longer. Overall, the total wage theft revealed last week summed up to 94.2 million dollars. According to PwC, Australian workers are underpaid 1.35 billion dollars each year – that means that 1 out of 7 workers aren’t getting their wages, as well as superannuation, overtime, and entitlements like properly paid sick leave. Despite the statistics and companies being called out for wage theft, we’ve seen this issue continue. Which begs the question – why? To dive deep into this issue, I spoke to The Daily on 2SER.

Submission to National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-24

The Australian Government is developing a National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020‑24, which builds on Australia’s current efforts under the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-2019. The Government published a Consultation Paper and provided the business community, civil society and academia to help co-design a 2020-24 Plan that will drive Australia’s efforts to combat modern slavery over the next five years. The submission by Justine Nolan and myself can be found below.

Our key recommendations:

  1. The Government should bolster the Modern Slavery Act by introducing sanctions for non-compliance, mandate and provide guidance on human rights due diligence and by creating the post of National Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner;
  2. The Government should “name and shame” entities that do not comply with the Modern Slavery Act, as well as entities that are found to have modern slavery in their supply chain;
  3. The Government should update its procurement policies to follow international best-practice, and provide additional training to procurement officers;
  4. The Government should leverage the impact of public spending by creating a procurement connected policy concerning modern slavery;
  5. The Government should prepare for an increase in modern slavery survivors being referred to authorities by creating adequate support structures based on international best practice;
  6. The Government should include two additional goals which focus on the nexus between climate change and gender with modern slavery.
  7. The Government should facilitate the creation of decent jobs, address wage theft, remove barriers for organised labour, and increase resources for the Fair Work Ombudsman;
  8. The Government should create an anti-slavery helpline and geographically plot calls to reveal hotspots across Australia.

Martijn Boersma and Justine Nolan - Submission National Action Plan

“Addressing Modern Slavery” at the Adelaide Writers’ Week 2020

“Does our globalised economy rely on the exploitation of the vulnerable? Are we, as consumers, an intrinsic part of chains of supply and complicity that keep 40 million people enslaved? Justine Nolan and Martijn Boersma wrote Addressing Modern Slavery to define and dissect a phenomenon we think of as remote but is more prevalent than at any time in human history. Based on years of forensic research, this impressive book is mandatory reading for anyone committed to ending exploitation and the scourge of modern slavery.”

Justine Nolan and myself will be at the Adelaide Writers’ Week on Saturday 29 February, appearing at the West Stage at 12pm. The full program can be found below.

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