@The Consumer Goods Forum Blog

Today an estimated 21 million individuals are still in conditions of what the United Nations refers to as ‘modern’ forms of slavery, with 14 million of those individuals being victims of labour exploitation specifically. 21 million – that’s nearly the population of Australia, an incredible number to still exist. Global supply chains are riddled with this problem and it must be stopped. Thankfully however, these human rights violations are not falling on deaf ears. Industry leaders are well aware of the role that business must play in addressing this worldwide problem and I am eager to announce our latest development. 

Earlier this month, key industry leaders took a strong stance against forced labour by moving our ground-breaking forced labour commitment from words to action. The CGF announced three Priority Industry Principles to counter the most problematic, yet often common employment practices across the world that may lead to cases of forced labour - especially amongst vulnerable workers. The principles, when applied by industries at large, in collaboration with public actors/ institutional actors, could lead to the changes needed to remove forced labour from global supply chains. They are as follows: 
  • Every worker should have freedom of movement. The ability of workers to move freely should not be inhibited by their employer.
  • No worker should pay for a job.  Fees and costs associated with recruitment and employment should be paid by the employer.
  • No worker should be indebted or coerced to work.  Workers should work freely, aware of the terms and conditions of their work and paid regularly as agreed.
The principles build on the ambitious CGF Social Resolution on Forced Labour announced by our Board of Directors in January of this year. Such CEO leadership is an essential piece in today’s actions against forced labour. They send a strong message from global business leaders, showcasing their commitment to the cause. This being said, for there to be the greatest impact in supply chains across the world, the principles need to be adopted globally across industries and geographies. 
We Need You!
Forcing an individual to work either through mental or physical coercion, financial control or restriction of movement is not only illegal but also goes against the common principles of human rights we should all abide by. Many world leaders and governments have taken a stand against forced labour, and the CGF is doing to same and calling on others to join the collective movement.  
As is the case with any challenge of this magnitude and importance, it is impossible for an individual company to tackle forced labour alone. Governments, civil society and companies all have their vital role to play if we wish to one day reach a world free of forced labour. Our hope is that these principles will be adopted at large - across not only the CGF membership base but also consumer goods industry as whole and beyond. This mainstreaming is essential to see the positive change we all want.  
If you would like to learn more about the principles or our initial pilot projects for their implementation in the seafood and palm oil industries of Southeast Asia, feel free to contact the CGF Social Sustainability Team.

This article was written and contributed by:
Didier Bergeret
Social Sustainability and the Global Social Compliance Programme
The Consumer Goods Forum


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