Broken Promises: business failure on modern slavery

A new report, Broken Promises: Two years of corporate reporting under Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, examines the second year of corporate statements submitted to the Government’s Modern Slavery Register by 92 companies sourcing from four sectors with known risks of modern slavery: garments from China, rubber gloves from Malaysia, seafood from Thailand and fresh produce from Australia.

It finds that:

  • 66% of companies reviewed (down from 77% in the first year) are still failing to comply with the basic reporting requirements mandated by the legislation, with some companies not submitting reports at all;
  • Over half (56%) of the commitments made by companies in the first year of reporting to improve their modern slavery response remained unfulfilled based on their second year statements;
  • 43% of companies reviewed (down from 52% in the first year) are still failing to identify obvious modern slavery risks in their supply chains;
  • There is a mere 6% increase in the number of companies appearing to be taking some form of effective action to address modern slavery risks, with two in three companies still failing to act.
Broken Promises

Seafood, rubber gloves, oranges: tainted by modern slavery?

If your clothes are made in China, rubber gloves from Malaysia and seafood sourced from Thailand, researchers are warning you may be at risk of supporting modern slavery practices.

Those were identified as the sectors with the highest risk of modern slavery in a new report, produced by a coalition of human rights organisations and academics.

And despite previous warnings of the risks to Australian companies sourcing these products, little has changed to improve the risks.

Continue reading Seafood, rubber gloves, oranges: tainted by modern slavery?

Muslim countries vote down UN Human Rights Council Xinjiang debate

Uyghur Australians have condemned Muslim-majority member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council for voting down a debate on allegations of human rights abuses against minorities, including Muslims and Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China.

Among the 19 members who voted against the debate were Pakistan, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

Australian resident and exiled Uyghur, Arslan Hidayat, described it as another “stab in the back” — singling out the votes from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, both Turkic countries with historical connections to the Uyghur community.

Continue reading Muslim countries vote down UN Human Rights Council Xinjiang debate

Using Market Devices to Address Labour Abuses

This study examines how the risk of labour standards noncompliance can be rendered calculable and commensurable through a market device. We present a case study of the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF), an industry certification scheme, which seeks to address labour exploitation in the Australian contract cleaning industry. We pay particular attention to the central device of the certification scheme – the pricing schedule. We examine how the pricing schedule shaped the calculative space informing contracting parties during the procurement process. In doing so, the pricing schedule increased transparency around the potential risk of labour standards noncompliance. The nature of this transparency and the perceived objectivity of the pricing schedule acted to reshape the market for contract cleaning, resulting in a redistribution of accountability for labour exploitation. We also examine how the pricing schedule formed part of a wider framework of accountability, and how these mechanisms enabled strategic co-enforcement of labour standards compliance by supply chain stakeholders. Overall, our study indicates the potential for accounting practices to play a more active role in shaping how markets address modern slavery risks.

1-s2.0-S0890838922000610-main

Interview with Paul Turton on ABC Radio Newcastle: RTBU’s industrial action and the role of unions

On 25 August I briefly spoke to Paul Turton on ABC Radio Newcastle, about the Rail Tram and Bus Union’s (RTBU) industrial action and the role and future role of trade unions. I stopped short of singing The Internationale (but only just).

UN report on China’s abuse of Uyghurs: What Should Australia Do in Reponse?

For three years, Sadam Abdusalam watched his newborn grow into a toddler through the screen of a mobile phone. He was thousands of kilometres away in Australia, and his son Lufti and his wife Nadila were stuck in China’s Xinjiang province, unable to leave.

A Uyghur originally from Xinjiang, Mr Abdusalam was separated from his family for three years after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seized Nadila’s passport in 2017. He said the CCP began taking “as many” Uyghurs’ passports as they could in that year.

Continue reading UN report on China’s abuse of Uyghurs: What Should Australia Do in Reponse?

Envisioning Wellbeing Economies through the Australian Fashion Industry Context

Sustainability leaders, experts, industry and innovators from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific came together to share their knowledge on sustainability challenges and opportunities in the Oceania region as part of a major international sustainability event.

Coordinated by Future Earth Australia, Australian Academia and government partners hosted the sustainability-focused event in Brisbane from 29 June – 1 July 2022.

Sessions were held over three days and covered any aspects of sustainability: climate change, Indigenous knowledges, coastal resilience, urban sustainability, synthetic biology and more. It will focus on sustainability issues and challenges unique to Oceania.

The Oceania Satellite Event built on the outcomes of the inaugural SRI2021 Congress last year in Brisbane, that featured more than 2000 attendees from over 100 countries.

Wellbeing Economies through Fashion

  • 0:04 Welcome from Moderator : Assoc. Prof. Samantha Sharpe
  • 2:12 Wellbeing Economy – Sufficiency – UTS/ISF – Dr.Monique Retamal
  • 10:04 Reuse / Repair – Monash – Aleasha McCallion
  • 18:05 Policy & Stewardship – QUT – Assoc.Prof. Alice Payne
  • 26:30 Inclusive fashion Practices and Intersectionality – USC – Deborah Fisher 
  • 34:36 Circularity – Monash – Julie Boulton.
  • 47:04 Modern Slavery – UNDA – Assoc.Prof. Martijn Boersma
  • 55:33 Regenerative Business models – UTS ISF – Karina Kallio 
  • 1:04:40 Discussion

Modern Slavery Risks in the Cleaning and Security Industry

This briefing session brings together academic experts in the fields of modern slavery, labour law compliance, supply chain due diligence and temporary migrant workers, to share insights and advice on how universities can demonstrate leadership in promoting good labour practices. The aim of this briefing is to assist relevant stakeholders in the higher education sector to understand their role in promoting good labour practices, and provide guidance on practically how to do this. This briefing is aimed at professionals working in university procurement and contract management, university modern slavery working groups, university risk and compliance, cleaning and security contractors that currently hold contracts at university campuses.

Continue reading Modern Slavery Risks in the Cleaning and Security Industry

Why a degree in modern slavery is a valuable addition to your CV

Modern slavery may seem a distant issue in Australia, but a new course will teach graduates why an understanding of it is increasingly important in every business

It might be easy to imagine, especially in Australia, that slavery is a thing of the past. But an estimated 15,000 people were living in conditions of modern slavery here in 2016, through forced marriage and labour, sexual exploitation, debt bondage and human trafficking – exploitation that disproportionately affects women, children, asylum seekers and migrants. Globally, in that same year, 40.3 million victims were being abused.

Martijn Boersma is an associate professor of human trafficking and modern slavery at the University of Notre Dame Australia, where a new course aims to provide the skills and knowledge that will enable people to work proactively to put an end to the exploitation of vulnerable people.

Continue reading Why a degree in modern slavery is a valuable addition to your CV

Post Divider