New report on human trafficking and supply chains looks at FTSE 100 (20.11.15)
A new report highlighting the risks of human trafficking in the supply chains of FTSE 100 companies has been compiled by Us, Finance Against Trafficking, Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) and Rathbone Greenbank Investments.
Us Director for Global Relations Rachel Parry said: ‘It is easy to forget that we are all “investors” in systems and businesses which can, through complex and distant supply chains, be connected to trafficking.
‘This research considers how companies might be exposed to trafficking in their supply chains and suggests ways in which such risks can be managed and minimised.
‘For those concerned about investing ethically, the report gives guidance on questions that investors could ask investment managers or companies regarding these risks.
‘Companies need to improve their efforts to monitor and manage their supply chains. This report gives some practical guidance about how better to go about this.
‘Partner churches of Us have examples of people within their communities who have survived and escaped being trafficked, while many more continue to endure forms of slavery.’
According to the International Labour Organisation, 21 million people around the globe are currently working under conditions of forced labour.
Many of these people are tricked by recruiters into taking jobs which promise salaries to help their families escape poverty. But on arrival their documentation is often taken from them, so they become ‘stateless’ and forced to work long hours with no employment rights.
This is what happened to Garry Martinez, now chair of Migrante International and based in London. It is an example of how human trafficking can be buried within the supply chains of big name companies.
Tricked into slavery: Garry’s story
Garry, one of 15 children, came from a poor family in the Philippines. Aged 21, he was offered a job in a factory in South Korea.
He said: ‘We were so poor, I jumped at the opportunity. I hoped it would bring financial security to my family. We sold a carabao and a small parcel of land, and borrowed money from a money-lender, and managed to raise $2,000 to pay the recruiter.’
But on arriving in Korea, Garry was given a fake passport – with his photo but false details. He asked the recruiter for his money back, but was told the money had already been used to pay for his so-called documentation. He felt obliged to use the false passport and take his chances. The immigration officer didn’t bat an eyelid; Garry suspects he was part of the human trafficking syndicate.
He and others in the same boat were taken to a hotel where employers bought their services.
Garry ended up in a quilting factory, in a basement, working up to 14 hours a day, and not allowed to leave.
He was paid little and given only a cup of rice and a fried egg to eat each day.
‘I kept giving my employers letters to send home, but I didn’t receive any replies. I later discovered my letters were not being sent.
‘We became very afraid. We wanted to go to the police, but we had a language problem.
‘I spent that year learning Korean so I could communicate. Finally, I escaped and went to the Philippines Embassy in Seoul. There were many people there asking for help. But there was a problem because I was only 21 and the law in the Philippines states that you need to be 23 before you can emigrate, though few people observe this rule. I think this was an excuse. The embassy official insulted me and sent me away.’
Garry escaped and found a better job with better pay and conditions. Though, as an immigrant, he was paid a fraction of what a Korea would receive.
He vowed he would do his best to survive so he could help his fellow countrymen and women who found themselves in the same situation, which led to his current role as an advocate for migrant workers.
Garry said: ‘There are approximately 12 million Filipinos currently working overseas, of which up to 400,000 have been tricked into forms of slave labour. Certainly, there are Filipinos in the UK who have been trafficked.
‘Traffickers treat people as if they were machines, exploiting them so they can make profits. But this cannot continue. Just as the slaves protested against the slave trade 200 years ago, the victims of human trafficking are also mobilising themselves to fight for their rights.
‘The church should open its doors to migrants and those who have been trafficked, and join the campaign for justice.
‘As a church, we believe that human dignity is a gift from God and this dignity has been stolen from us by human traffickers. We need to take back this dignity for every victim.
‘I was a victim, then a survivor, and now I’m an advocate. And I want the church to join me in this war on human trafficking. We need to educate church leaders so they understand the issues.’
Quote from Us Chief Executive Janette O’Neill
Us Chief Executive Janette O’Neill said: ‘Trafficking abuses people for financial gain. It surfaces in legitimate economies in the supply chain that brings to the end consumer low priced food and commodities. This report challenges us to reject complicity in modern day slavery and speak loudly for a world where all can work in safety and with dignity.’
Quote from chair of ECCR Bishop Michael Doe
Chair of ECCR Bishop Michael Doe said: ‘In a recent survey, over 70 per cent said they would be unhappy if their money was invested in unethical business. That figure would be even higher if they found they were profiting from abusive labour practices and the treatment of people, including children, which amounts to present day slavery.
‘All of us, and especially those of us who believe that every person is created equal with the right to a free and fulfilling life, need to know more and to act more decisively. That is what this report can help us to do.’
Quote from the Revd Herbert Fadriquela, Chaplain to the Filipino Community in Leicester
The Revd Herbert Fadriquela, Chaplain to the Filipino Community in the Diocese of Leicester, works with people who are aware of the tricks used by human traffickers.
He pointed out that human trafficking exists largely as a consequence of the wider social problems of global poverty and political repression.
He explained: ‘Poverty and political repression put people who want a better life at risk of being trafficked. Therefore, denouncing and addressing the root causes of economic poverty and political and civil repressions must also be addressed.’
Quote from Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: ‘This report highlights that, in our globalised economy, any business can be exposed to slavery through its supply chain.
‘Companies that have conducted audits have been shocked to discover that they have been unwitting beneficiaries of slave labour.’
The report urges British businesses to adopt guidelines in the Modern Slavery Act, which came into law in March this year, which obliges UK employers to check they are not inadvertently linked to human trafficking via their production and supply chains.
The Archbishop said: ‘The Modern Slavery Act is a call to action that I urge British business to seize. Modern slavery is a scourge that grossly undermines the inherent and God-given dignity of the human, and we must work urgently to eradicate it from our world.’