Research by the Worker Rights Consortium found that garment workers in 31 factories across nine countries have not been paid severance pay to which they are legally entitled. It reports that wage theft amounts to about five months’ salary per worker.
Forced Labor: The Latest Developments
Seven suppliers to companies including Apple were accused of “using forced labor from Xinjiang.” As part of an investigation, it was alleged that at least five of the suppliers had used Uyghur workers. Apple stated that it has not found evidence of forced labor.
The effectiveness of social audits was called into question after audit firms concluded that there was no forced labor at Malaysian glove factory Brightway, despite finding “excessive working hours, high recruitment fees paid by workers to agents, and unsafe living and working conditions.” However, following a raid at the factory, government officials reported that workers were found to have been living in shipping containers in conditions analogous to modern slavery. US Customs and Border Protection is reportedly carrying out an investigation into the company.
Beverage companies Heineken and Ambev have been fined as a transport subcontractor allegedly kept migrant workers in “slavery-like conditions.” The workers reportedly lived in their vehicles, worked long hours, and did not get days off. It is reported that workers will receive US$125,000 in compensation.
For further news on forced labor in relation to business and human rights see the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website.
A new paper analyses 20 garment companies’ commitments to living wages in their supply chains and reports that there is “little evidence to suggest companies have made meaningful progress towards achieving commitments to pay living wages in their supply chains.” The paper argues that corporate social responsibility commitments are ineffective.
The International Federation for Human Rights published guidance for investors on assessing modern slavery risks in portfolio companies. This includes an analysis of companies in the tourism, construction, food and beverage, and textile and footwear sectors and recommends that investors engage with rightsholders.
Aviva Investors highlighted ‘Why investors should care about human rights,’ discussing why investors should care about the ‘S’ in ESG and what actions investors can take, noting that investors should systematically make use of their voting power when it comes to social issues.
Prefer podcasts? Hear about KnowTheChain’s analysis on responsible recruitment in the Institute for Human Rights and Business’s latest Voices podcast.