The Australian horticultural sector is one of the most at-risk industries for modern slavery.
A recent survey by the National Union of Workers among 650 workers found severe underpayments and withholding of wages, excessive overtime, retention of identity documents, threats of and actual physical and sexual violence, and coercive and excessive payments for transport and board.
A group of academics, experts in the area of labour and human rights, modern slavery, and supply chains, have initiated an open letter in which they ask Coles and Woolworths to address labour exploitation and the risk of modern slavery.
Australia’s Modern Slavery Act requires businesses to report yearly on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, the actions taken in response, and the effectiveness of these actions. The first reporting cycle started on July 1.
Unfortunately, although companies and consumers are increasingly aware that modern slavery exists, it is a phenomenon that is often dismissed or misunderstood.
Supply chains that deliver everyday products to our fridges and tables can link unsuspecting consumers to labour and human rights abuses. Supply chain transparency is a better answer to the issue of worker abuse than “cracking down” on visas, which can make workers more vulnerable to exploitation.
In the space of a few years, concepts like meta-data and surveillance drones have become commonplace in news reports and public debate. While many of us are justifiably worried about information technology and privacy violations, we ourselves contribute to these observational practices on a daily basis. Facilitated by technological advances, it has become possible to monitor nearly every kind of human experience. Self-surveillance might well be the last piece in the puzzle.
There are many pros and cons in the polarised debate between the ‘biological’ food advocates and the genetically modified (GM) food proponents.
Personally I am not an advocate of biological foods, raw foods, super foods or whatever the latest food fad might be, nor am I arguing that the production and consumption of GM foods will unquestionably cause natural and economic disasters.
Instead my concern with GM food is that it will contribute to a process that has been going on for some time, namely the commodification or fetishisation of food. By this I mean the restrictive view of food as an end product, in and by itself, separated from its source and production process.