Modern Slavery Freedom

Modern countries are fighting forced labour and human trafficking with legislation that makes it harder to use forced labour in their supply chains and profit from it. Modern slavery acts in the United Kingdom, United States, and other countries around the world are requiring large companies to disclose information regarding their efforts to eradicate human trafficking and slavery within their supply chains. The legislation also requires companies to take concrete steps to combat modern slavery when it is discovered. The US has recently introduced the Slave-Free Business Certification Bill 2022.

Slave-Free Business Certification Bill of 2022: What is it?

With this recent bill, the US is joining the growing list of countries requiring businesses to examine more extensively possible problems with modern slavery in their supply chains. If passed, the bill will require large companies to undergo mandatory audits that will identify if they are or are not using forced labour within their supply chains.

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As the World Cup continues in Qatar, the event is being closely watched. Not only in terms of results of fixtures, but in the cost of human life. 

Due to the complexity and invisibility of forced labour and modern slavery in the supply chain, it’s impossible to close in on an exact number of people entrapped in these conditions today, but it is estimated that around 40 million people are trapped in forced labour worldwide in various forms.

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A Young Girl Sews Fabric for a Clothes Retailer
Does your organisation know exactly what is happening in its supply chains?

Is your company benefitting from modern slavery? 

More than 150 years after slavery was officially abolished, there are more slaves than ever before. It is estimated that as many as 40 million people are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery worldwide. These include workers abused around the world and in your city, forced under threat of punishment to work, or to provide services without being able to leave.

Modern slavery laws have thrust much of the responsibility for fighting these abuses onto the corporate sector, making supply chain transparency an increasingly important topic. Companies are now expected to take a proactive role to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place within their businesses or any of their suppliers. 

VinciWorks’ new brief but comprehensive course will help employees understand the realities of modern-day slavery, the legislation being used to fight it, and what your company can do to help. 

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VinciWorks’ modern slavery webinar 2022

Our modern slavery webinar on 26 October 2022 looked at the latest in modern slavery compliance. During the webinar, we received a number of questions about modern slavery which we have answered below.

There is also some additional information on the basics of modern slavery, tackling this issue as a business, and what to consider in the supply chain.

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Since the UK Modern Slavery Act came into force, it is estimated that the number of people trapped in forced labour or forced marriages has actually increased, with the number now believed to have reached over 50 million. A mixture of armed conflict, climate change and the global pandemic has made modern slavery a growing challenge, despite an increase in regulations in many countries.

With the UK and other countries set to strengthen their regulations, in this webinar, we look at whether businesses are doing enough to eradicate modern slavery.

The webinar covered:

  • What businesses are currently doing well and how they can improve
  • MSA best practice
  • How modern slavery compliance can enhance your ESG programme
  • Guidance on producing annual modern slavery statements
  • Processes and tools to help you stay on top of your supply chains

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Anti-Slavery Day

As human trafficking increases in 2022, countries adapt to the challenge

Modern slavery is as important a topic as ever today. The exploitation and trafficking of people for commercial gain is a greater global problem than even during the days of the transatlantic slave trade centuries ago.

Modern slavery examples

A number of current global events are exacerbating the problems of modern slavery. Russia’s war against Ukraine has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, making them vulnerable to traffickers who can easily abduct them for exploitation. Children are particularly vulnerable amidst the refugee crisis, as are women. While no one has any numbers, reports indicate that, in the words of a UN official, human trafficking is evolving into “a crisis within a crisis”. 

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, where extreme poverty is prevalent following the Taliban’s takeover of the country last year, desperation has made forced labour commonplace. In addition, a growing number of families are choosing to sell their children into forced marriages in order to have money to buy food. 

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What’s changing in the world of mandatory corporate compliance?

The EU’s proposed new corporate due diligence and corporate accountability directive will cover companies that sell to the EU, not just those based there. Businesses will be required to identify, address and remedy their impact on human rights and the environment. Crucially, this is likely to go up and down the value chain, which means customers as well as suppliers. Businesses could be sued inside the EU for human rights violations or environmental damage committed by their customers or end-users of their products in third countries. 

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We’d like to think slavery has been consigned to history, but sadly, that’s far from true. According to Anti-Slavery International, it is estimated that 40 million people are trapped in modern slavery today. According to the Global Slavery Index, there is a surprisingly high rate of slavery in developed countries: an estimated one in 800 people in the US, for example, and 10,000 people in the UK, though the real number is probably much higher. Another possibly surprising fact is that roughly 90% of slaves are victimised by private enterprise, and that may be because it seems profitable: $150 billion is generated from the forced labor industry every year.

Being an enabler of modern slavery is not only terrible on an ethical level; it can also cause severe reputational and financial damage on an organisational level. But by knowing what to look out for, asking the right questions, and knowing how to respond, you and your organisation can take an active part in helping abolish modern slavery.

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Everyone, everywhere, has the has the right to live a life free of slavery. We’d like to think slavery has been consigned to history, but unfortunately, that’s far from true. While it may look different than the traditional slavery-associated images of shackles and transatlantic ships, and while it may be kept just out of site, it is actually taking place everywhere, in every single country around the world. 

When people are severely exploited by others for personal or commercial gain, this is modern slavery. This exploitation can take many forms, from human trafficking, to forced labour and bonded labour, descent-based slavery, forced child labour, and forced and early marriage. Some of these, such as descent-based slavery, are more prevalent in places such as Africa, but many others are prevalent everywhere, including all throughout Western society.

Though millions of men, women and children are being held in slavery and deprived of their basic human freedom, and there is much work to be done, there are slivers of progress being made to tackle modern-day slavery. What are governments around the world doing to help tackle this dreadful phenomenon? 

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Is slavery a thing of the past? Unfortunately not. According to the Global Slavery Index, it is estimated that on any given day, there are 15,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Australia. Cases of forced labour exploitation are especially high in industries considered high risk, such as agriculture, construction, domestic labour, meat processing, cleaning, hospitality, and food services.

As such, Australia’s implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2018, which came into effect on 1 January 2019 was a welcome, if overdue, step in the effort to combat modern slavery. While the act technically went into effect last year, 2020 is the first year that organisations that fall within the scope of the law will actually be required to report.

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