New statistics report that over a third of rescued modern slavery victims in the UK have, at some point over the course of their exploitation, been used for labour at waste or recycling processing plants. This work involves long strenuous hours in harsh, dirty environments, ‘picking’ and sorting materials that come into the depot. These cases highlight the recycling industry as one of the increasing target points for human traffickers, where the victims maybe moved between known industries such as car washes and factory work.
The NCA has recorded 1,631 referrals of modern slavery in the first 3 months of 2018. There is growing awareness around the waste industry as a key sector for the skills and labour sets of human trafficking victims. These findings point to the need for tightening of regulation around waste and recycling supply chains, particularly those attached to local government. As a government utility, it is critical that waste collection and treatment systems do not facilitate modern slavery. The private sector waste companies need assessment around the UK’s Modern Slavery legalisation.
The UNHCR, OECD and other international agencies are working on an ‘Action Plan’ to overcome the issue of refugee employment. This plan aims to integrate refugees into the labour market by overcoming the issues and creating a strategy to identify the skills that can actively contribute to the economy of the host nation.
Through research and interviews, having secure and safe employment is the top contributor to integration in a new society, which protects them from the potential for labour exploitation. Although each host destination has subjective conditions and labour requirements, the action plan is a holistic and broad framework composed of 10 steps:
Action 1 – Navigate the administrative framework
Action 2 – Provide employers with sufficient legal certainty
Action 3 – Identify and verify refugees’ skills
Action 4 – Developing skills for job-readiness
Action 5 – Match refugee talent with employers’ needs
Action 6 – Provide equal opportunities in recruitment and combat stereotypes
Action 7 – Prepare the working environment
Action 8 – Enable long-term employability
Action 9 – Make the business case for hiring refugees
Action 10 – Coordinate actions between all stakeholders
Whether in refuge from conflict, environmental or economic hardship, 65 million people globally have been forcibly displaced from their homes, of which refugees make up 25.5 million. Due to the nature of globalisation, these rates are increasing, along with the frequency and types of labour exploitation of refugees and vulnerable populations.
In the development CSR, rights observers have understood that corporate interests generally outweigh the voluntary demand for an ethical and socially responsible supply chain. There are various examples of CSR that have developed, which compels corporations to comply with legal standards. For example the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 that that dictates national legal standards, which requires corporations to publish the steps they are taking to ensure their supply chains and free of modern slavery, child labour, human trafficking. This regulation applies both domestically and for international sourcing, in which certain export standards of mandatory social compliance are placed onto developing countries with cheap labour. The California Transparency in Supply Chain Act (CTSCA) 2010 operates similar obligations but working at state level. The Indian Companies Act (2013) compels Indian corporations to spend 2% of their pre-tax profit on CSR.
How Child Rights fit into CSR
Although such legislation is aimed more broadly at achieving supply chain transparency, upholding child rights is a key element of this. Specifically, there is a set of 10 Child Rights and Business Principles as outlined by Save the Children, the UN Global Compact and UNICEF, which give a comprehensive yet non-exhaustive list of CSR requirements in relation to child rights. Corporations must:
Meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights and commit to supporting the human rights of children
Contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and business relationships
Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers
Ensure the protection and safety of children in all business activities and facilities
Ensure that products and services are safe, and seek to support children’s rights through them
Use marketing and advertising that respect and support children’s rights
Respect and support children’s rights in relation to the environment and to land acquisition and use
Respect and support children’s rights in security arrangements
Help protect children affected by emergencies
Reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfil children’s rights
The focus of CSR towards children aims to eliminate child labour from supply chains, but also must take the nuanced approach which includes protecting the rights of children in their core business strategy, covering all operations, employee rights, marketing, and delivery of products and services.
In parallel to the transatlantic slave trade as one of the most profitable business ventures in global history, modern slavery in the form of human trafficking follows suit. The International Labour Organisation estimates human trafficking derives USD 150.2 billion per year, making it still one of the most profitable criminal ventures worldwide. Furthermore, in an environment of globalisation it is rapidly increasing in numbers and in typologies. The rise in displacement and movement of people, whether in refuge from conflict zones, economic or environmental migration means there is increased vulnerability to trafficking, and in turn, more revenue produced by trafficking rings.
The report divides human trafficking into three categories in which revenue is produced through very unique money laundering systems. Firstly, trafficking for forced labour produces USD 51.2 billion per year, of which USD 43.40 billion is generated by hard labour exploitation, and USD 7.9 billion produced through domestic servitude. Second, trafficking for forced sexual exploitation produces USD 99 billion. Third, organ removal produces between USD 600 million – 1.2 billion, however the report refrains from providing a defined figure because the crime is rarely done in isolation, and therefore overlaps with other crimes which clouds the figures.
On analysis, the conclusions of this report put significant weight on the need for cooperation between international, state and regional authorities to work together in combatting financial flows from human trafficking. However, there are many challenges and complexities including the corruption of state actors that contribute to the global trafficking systems and obscure the financial figures recorded, including which revenue streams are being used for terror funding. The international institutions such as FATF need to work closely with governments to systematically identify and analyse this. By nature of the black market, accurate figures are impossible to find which inhibits the capacity of national authorities, financial institutions, NGOs and actors to prioritise responses to human trafficking in its various forms. Yet as we further understand the finances of the crime, we are able to respond with effective measures of prevention and resolution.