Working Together to Drive Positive Impact

Forced labour is an endemic social problem riddled throughout supply chains globally. With 25 million individuals victim to forced labour today it is one of the most profitable global crimes and a problem of this magnitude cannot be solved by one person, company or industry acting alone.

The Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour (HRC) is uniquely positioned to drive the social sustainability conversation forward and help implement actions that lead to positive impacts. CEO-led, we work to achieve decent working conditions across the consumer goods industry and worldwide. Our Coalition was founded in 2020 to accelerate and align CGF members’ actions to eradicate forced labour after five progressive years of CGF efforts on the issue, including the publication of our industry’s first-ever Social Resolution on Forced Labour and the identification of the Priority Industry Principles.

Today, our work is focused on driving individual and collective action in our businesses and supply chains to:

  • Implement Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) systems focused on forced labour in our own operations and our palm oil supply chain;
  • Support Responsible Recruitment markets; and
  • Support a focused movement with all relevant stakeholders to jointly expedite the elimination of forced labour.

Scroll down to continue learning about our ambitions.

Defining the Problem and Our Principles

The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines forced labour as situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities. This includes forced child labour, forced migrant labour and human trafficking. Of the 25 million people in forced labour, the ILO estimates 16 million are in the private sector, which includes domestic work, construction or agriculture. This is an unacceptable situation that the HRC is firmly committed to fighting.

While certain employment and recruitment practices may not initially appear problematic, in aggregate or combined with other forms of leverage, they can result in forced labour, particularly among vulnerable workers. Our work is also guided by our Priority Industry Principles, which were developed in 2016 in alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and identify the three most problematic, yet often common, employment practices which can lead to cases of forced labour.

The CGF Priority Industry Principles

CGF Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour

These three Priority Industry Principles help us prioritise action to address the primary drivers of forced labour within the consumer goods industry and beyond. While the PIPs do not cover all drivers of forced labour, they have been developed in alignment with the ILO Indicators of Forced Labour.

We will take active measures to apply these Principles across our global value chains and own operations, to cases where such practices may lead to forced labour. We seek to apply these Principles to all workers regardless of their employment status, location, contractual arrangements or role. We do this as part of our collective journey to advance the human rights of workers and positively shape global labour markets.

ILO Indicator of Forced Labour CGF Priority Industry Principles Coverage ILO Indicator of Forced Labour CGF Priority Industry Principles Coverage
Abuse of vulnerability PIPs 1, 2, and 3 Retention of identity documents PIP 2
Deception PIP 3 Witholding of wages PIP 3
Restriction of movement PIP 2 Debt bondage PIPs 1 and 3
Isolation PIP 1 Abusive working and living conditions PIP 3
Physical and sexual violence PIP 2 Excessive overtime PIP 3
Intimidation and threats PIP 2
Learn More About the Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour.

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Leading Against Forced Labour

 

At the CGF’s annual Global Summit in 2021, which took place virtually, former Chairman and CEO of Danone, Emmanuel Faber, spoke about the urgent need for leadership and action in the fight against forced labour in our industry.

The Business Case for Fighting Forced Labour

Our industry is experiencing a “stress test”. Now more than ever, the “S” (Social) element of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues is gaining attention: in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident that social practices are a barometer for corporate culture and resilience – companies that have a strong/shared culture across their organisation tend to demonstrate strong social practices. 

The most visible effects of COVID-19 can be seen around disruptions and high pressure on supply chains in terms of stocks, increased price of essentials, labour shortages, travel bans and delayed investments. On the less visible side, a new wave of forced labour cases and human rights violations may be triggered across our industry due to these increasing pressures – impact both direct and indirect workers, including migrant and contract workers, and indirect services – where they are at the risk of mandatory overtime, non-payment of wages, hiring/firing, and other concerns, if we are not collectively careful to root out forced labour in supply chains

The result of this stress test will become a determining factor of our industry’s resilience – not only in showing our ability to manage supplies and demands, but also demonstrating how we can maintain good social standards and labour practices across our operations during challenging times. To date, many social audits are not taking place due to constraints created by the Covid-19, in a time where workers’ vulnerabilities are at an all-time high and face new and greater risks.

This shift is also taking place in the context of increasing stakeholder campaigns and regulatory demands from the U.S., France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the EU-wide level – to name a few – which legally require companies to conduct their human rights due diligence in their business practices and relationships and annually report on them. In some cases, an import ban on key products that are suspected to have been produced by child/forced labour is also in place. 

We need to continue our efforts as responsible companies and ensure that our Priority Industry Principles against forced labour are applied now to address increased instances of debt bondage, coercion and other forced labour practices. This Coalition’s objectives are an even more relevant contribution to ensuring that those invisible workers in our value chains are recognised, and their vulnerabilities addressed and put at the heart of our businesses’ concerns.

Business Actions Against Forced Labour

See how our members are working towards the implementation of our Forced Labour Resolution in our case studies booklet, “Business Actions Against Forced Labour.”

#SilenceIsUnacceptable

HRC members are also committed to lend their voices to the growing conversation around ending forced labour by supporting transparency and disclosure efforts which acknowledge the risk of forced labour practices within the consumer goods industry, and especially in their own operations. Collectively, members work together to activate pre-competitive practices, such as shaping roundtable discussions, developing open source materials, governmental engagement to proactively shape regulations and level the playing field, and recognising credible fair labour providers worldwide, to elevate the dialogue on forced labour and support those who employ ethical labour standards.

To mark the 72nd annual Human Rights Day, members of the CGF Human Rights Coalition — Working to End Forced Labour share their collective voice about how they’re answering the call for industry action on human rights, particularly in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, by identifying and remedying potential and real risks for forced labour in their own operations, and especially in their palm oil supply chains.

Connect to the call to join them in this journey towards a world without forced labour: