Migrant Workers and Modern Slavery
According to recent ILO estimates, there are 150 million migrant workers in the world – meaning those who have crossed international borders. Often forgotten are internal migrants: India and China have hundreds of millions of such internal migrants.
A special law even exists in India to protect these workers – The Interstate Migrant Workers Act. But despite frequent and well documented violations of migrant workers rights, there has never been a single prosecution under this legislation!
Migrant workers often perform the dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs (3Ds) that nationals no longer want to do and they are found in sectors known for their high levels of fatal accidents at work and injuries.
Racism and xenophobia can be turned against migrant workers as well preventing them trying to obtain the rights and national and international law.
Stirling Smith, our Director of Projects, prepared a manual for the ILO Bureau for Workers Activities (ACTRAV) In search of Decent Work, which has been adapted and translated for use in several countries.
In conjunction with leading UK clothing brands Just Solutions has undertaken an extensive project in Mauritius to respond to the challenges posed by the use of large numbers of migrant workers living in dormitories and away from their homes and families for years at a time. We have also investigated the situation of migrant workers in China, Turkey, Egypt and in the UK meat processing sector.
Global brands sourcing from countries where migration for labour is a well established phenomenon should contact Just Solutions for advice on how to ensure that workers’ rights are respected.
Modern Slavery has become a hot topic in business, with UK legislation requiring companies with a global turnover of over £36m a year to prepare a report on the steps they are taking to find it and to tackle it. This phenomenon often goes hand-in-hand with issues affecting migrant workers because of their high level of vulnerability.
In this blog, Stirling Smith – who is also a lead trainer on modern slavery for the Ethical Trading Initiative on modern slavery – unpacks the definition of modern slavery – something the law does not do.
Sadly, many companies have swallowed the line that what is needed is more audits.
As slavery-like practices are illegal, and under the radar, they are unlikely to show up in audits. What’s needed is a more rounded approach. Just Solutions is particularly equipped for this task because of its extensive local social networks.
And here is another blog, looking more closely at the lessons of slavery in the USA before the Civil War: https://www.ethicaltrade.org/blog/ethical-trade-1850s-breaking-chains-slavery