Tag Archives: working conditions

Submission: Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme 2005 (NSW)

The Inquiry into the Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme 2005 (NSW), undertaken by the Modern Slavery Committee, is a comprehensive evaluation focused on the Scheme’s role in mitigating modern slavery within the clothing manufacturing sector of New South Wales (NSW). It delves into the textiles, clothing, and footwear (TCF) industry’s characteristics, examining aspects such as industry size, workforce demographics, supply chain complexities, and the prevalence of modern slavery. Additionally, the inquiry reviews the Scheme’s current application, its alignment with international human rights standards, and the need for any modifications to enhance its effectiveness. It also explores the Scheme’s enforceability, including methods to promote compliance, and considers extending the Scheme to other industries vulnerable to modern slavery due to their supply chain characteristics. This investigation is crucial for identifying strategies to combat modern slavery, ensuring that the TCF industry, and potentially other sectors, operate in line with global human rights commitments and provide better protection for workers in NSW.

My co-authored submission offers several recommendations to enhance the Ethical Clothing Extended Responsibilities Scheme to mitigate modern slavery within the clothing manufacturing sector NSW:

  1. Promote Supply Chain Mapping: The scheme’s unique approach to examining the entire supply chain from retailer to outworker helps in identifying vulnerabilities and instances of modern slavery that may be overlooked by Commonwealth legislation. It’s suggested that state action is needed to mandate such mapping for smaller entities not covered at the Commonwealth level.
  2. Create a Supply Chain Database: The establishment of a comprehensive database to capture detailed supply chain information is recommended. This would aid various stakeholders, including the NSW Office of Industrial Relations, the Fair Work Ombudsman, and the NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner, by providing them with readily accessible information.
  3. Articulate Collaboration between Government Agencies: The proposals for supply chain mapping and database creation are in line with the objectives of both NSW and Commonwealth governments to combat modern slavery. The recommendation emphasizes enhanced inter-agency collaboration, which can augment existing policy goals and lead to more effective oversight and action against modern slavery within supply chains.
  4. Explore Extension of the Scheme: The recommendation suggests that the scheme could serve as a model for other industries. By enhancing transparency, accountability, and worker protection, it could pave the way for similar oversight in industries that are at high risk of modern slavery and labor standards violations, especially those industries with many entities below the Modern Slavery Act (2018) reporting threshold.

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).

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.

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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.

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Child Labour in Hyundai’s Supply Chain

The carmaker is facing questions after serious allegations of child labour being used in one of its US subsidiary steel plants. Australia’s Hyundai Motor Company has distanced itself from serious allegations of child labour in its US company’s subsidiary steel plant.

The allegations come after an investigation from Reuters revealed that several children, one as young as 12, have missed school to work at the Korean carmaker’s subsidiary, called SMART Alabama LLC.

According to the Reuters report, local police, three underage children, eight former and current employees of SMART have all said the flagship assembly employed underage staff to work long shifts.

Continue reading Child Labour in Hyundai’s Supply Chain

Consultation on Modern Slavery and Worker Exploitation (New Zealand)

Modern slavery and worker exploitation are severe types of exploitation that can be found both internationally and in New Zealand. To address these behaviours, significant collaboration between government agencies as well as civil society, corporations, trade unions, academics, and international partners is needed.

The New Zealand Government sought feedback on a new law aimed at addressing modern slavery and worker exploitation in New Zealand and around the world. The law would introduce new obligations for organisations with operations and supply chains in New Zealand. Below is a submission made by academics and representatives from civil society that work on modern slavery and labour exploitation.

 

Paper Promises? Examining Australia’s Modern Slavery Act

Two years into its operation, close to 4,000 statements have now been published on the government’s modern slavery register. Yet the extent to which the legislation is transforming business practices or making a tangible difference to the lives of workers remains highly uncertain. This report analyses 102 company statements published in the first reporting cycle of the MSA, to evaluate how many companies are starting to implement effective measures to address modern slavery and how many are lagging.

This report is part of a two-year collaborative research project by academics and civil society organisations aimed at improving responses to modern slavery and access to remedy for affected workers.

Modern Slavery and the Employment Relationship: Defining the Continuum of Exploitation

The Special Issue on ‘Modern Slavery and the Employment Relationship: Defining the Continuum of Exploitation’ in the Journal of Industrial Relations is now available online. The Special Issue focuses on what the large- and small-scale risk factors are that can cause working conditions to deteriorate, on how people can become trapped in exploitative conditions, and on what can be done to prevent and remedy labour abuses. Included articles explore the macro-level, specifically by examining global value chains and the labour exploitation within the global production regime and by examining the producer-end (rather than buyer end) of value chains and the responsibilities of companies for working conditions further downstream (rather than upstream) in the value chain. Other articles explore the market-based character of business and human rights regulation. One article concludes that market enforcement of modern slavery regulation is sub-optimal and should include $ penalties and a public regulator while another article asks whether business and human rights regulation originating in the Global North can improve working conditions in the Global South (spoiler: it’s complicated). Articles looking at the micro-level examine labour regimes on factory floors, specifically by examining the influence of the post-Rana Plaza labour governance system on worker outcomes and conditions of employment (hardship remains but less sweatshops) and by documenting the work experiences of Romanian transnational live-in care workers in Austria, where workers gave accounts of having been treated unfairly due to their dependence on placement agencies and employers.

Research Article: Making sense of Downstream Labour risk in Global Value Chains

While the efforts by actors on the buyer-side of value chains – such as brands and retailers – to address upstream labour abuses are well documented, there is a lack of research into how actors on the production-side of value chains – such as raw material producers – can identify and address downstream labour risks. This research presents the findings of an action research project that focused on the Australian cotton industry. By applying a sense-making lens, we propose four properties that can be used to identify labour risk in global value chains, providing insights into the capacity of producers to address downstream labour abuses. We suggest that there is a possibility for a ‘book-end’ approach that combines upstream and downstream actions by buyers and producers in global value chains.

The article can be found on the Journal of Industrial Relations website.