Global retailers join fight to end forced labour in supply chain

Retailers and manufacturers from around the world meeting in Singapore this week have pledged to end worker fees within 10 years and to end forced labour in the supply chain.

At the Global Forum on Responsible Recruitment and Employment, today, which precedes the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Global Summit at Marina Bay Sands, has issued a call to action aligned with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with the support of the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB).

Business leaders have the opportunity to eradicate forced labour through the global mainstreaming of the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour, which state:

  • Every worker should have freedom of movement;
  • No worker should pay for a job; and
  • No worker should be indebted or coerced to work.

Businesses can also work toward the eradication of worker fees in the next 10 years by implementing the Employer Pays Principle championed by the IHRB-led Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment.

“Forced labour is a complex issue that cannot be solved without cross-sectoral collaboration,” said Olaf Koch, chairman of hypermarket operato Metro AG and co-chair of CGF Board.

“At Metro AG, we encourage you to rise to the challenge, and stand united with us in the global fight against forced labour. We thank the leaders from our industry and global partners, ILO and IOM, for joining us on this collective journey.”

Grant Reid, CEO of Mars Incorporated, said two years have passed since the Consumer Goods Forum issued its global resolution to fight forced labour.

“We remain steadfast in this commitment, and this is a call to action to accelerate the tangible steps we are taking as an industry, matching our commitment with concrete results and improvements in the lives of vulnerable people. We need to increase the pace of change on this critical issue.”

Stand together

The CGF says collaboration is crucial to accelerating action and driving positive change on the issue.

“The CGF calls upon businesses to stand together in their commitment to combat the exploitation of human beings for the purposes of compulsory labour through the use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud or deception,” the organisation said in a statement released after the meeting.

“Committing to work together with industry peers, and welcoming the efforts of institutions, organisations, and coalitions engaged in the fight against forced labour is vital. Businesses are asked to join forces with the ILO, IOM and IHRB, experts in the field of modern slavery, to put an end to these abhorrent crimes once and for all.”

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