At the 2018 Global Forum on Responsible Business and Recruitment this week, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) called on businesses around the world to play their part in the fight to end all forms of forced labor. The event, co-hosted by the CGF and Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), brought together key stakeholders to discuss how best to galvanize efforts and drive real progress on the issue.
The call to action was made alongside the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with the support of the IHRB. It encouraged businesses to acknowledge the scale of the challenge and to accelerate action to eliminate forced labor, in alignment with the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international frameworks.
“Forced labour is a complex issue that cannot be solved without cross-sectoral collaboration,” said Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG and Co-Chair of the CGF Board. “We, at METRO AG encourage you to rise to the challenge and stand united with us in the global fight against forced labor. We thank the leaders from our industry and global partners, ILO and IOM, for joining us on this collective journey.”
Business leaders are invited to adopt and help mainstream the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour, launched in 2016, which state that 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 ten years by implementing the Employer Pays Principle championed by the IHRB-led Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment.
The International Tourism Partnership (ITP) set an example this week by launching a set of Principles for the global hotel industry on forced labor and human trafficking to counter such practices in recruitment and employment globally. Derived from the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles, The ITP Principles on Forced Labour represent an example of cross-sectoral collaboration on this issue.
“Two years ago, The Consumer Goods Forum issued our global resolution to fight forced labor. 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,” said Grant Reid, CEO of Mars, Incorporated.
The CGF stated that this week’s call to action is a strong affirmation of CGF members’ commitment to strive to eradicate forced labor from global supply chains and continue not to tolerate forced labor within their own operations. The organization went on to add that while governments are responsible for protecting human rights including ensuring that national laws and regulations protect against forced labor, business has a responsibility to respect human rights in its value chains and own operations and can play a key role in combatting forced labor.
The CGF is calling upon businesses to stand together in their commitment to combat the exploitation of human beings for the purposes of compulsory labor through the use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud or deception. Committing to work together with industry peers, and welcoming the efforts of institutions, organizations, and coalitions engaged in the fight against forced labor 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.
“More and more companies across sectors and industries are coming together to join the fight against forced labor and unethical recruitment, and to establish stronger protections for migrant workers in supply chains,” said Ambassador William Lacy Swing, Director General of IOM, the UN Migration Agency. “The UN Migration Agency stands ready to support these efforts and to work in partnership to promote practical, measurable improvements in the lives of migrants around the world.”