There are an estimated 168 million children engaged in child labor worldwide. In order to continue the fight against it today Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu released a new report 2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child and launched two mobile applications to help some of the most vulnerable people worldwide by utilizing the power of digital technology. Verité’s CEO Dan Viederman was a panelist at the release event in Washington D.C to discuss ways to leverage data in support of innovative strategies to tackle human rights concerns.
The issue of forced labor has long defied quantification at numerous levels: how many people work in conditions of modern-day slavery in supply chains? How much money do labor brokers earn from placing workers in forced labor situations? How much do government officials make from corrupt money flows? How much do employers ‘save’ by transferring costs to workers – and how is this reflected in the price paid by buyers? We are at the early stage of answering some of these queries.
In previous Vision articles, we have highlighted the fact that forced labor victims around the world are connected to multinational companies by labor supply chains that are hidden behind opaque layers of third-party intermediaries. The mere presence of these intermediaries can indicate a high risk of human trafficking and forced labor, yet companies lack visibility into labor supply networks and the performance of third-party intermediaries within them.
The Thai seafood sector remains in the crosshairs of consumer, media, regulatory, NGO and brand attention. On the pressure side, the European Union has issued Thailand a yellow card or threat of a trade ban if it doesn’t crack down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The US State and Labor departments have released reports harshly critical of labor abuses, including labor trafficking risks. The Guardian, Associated Press and New York Times, among others, have published a devastating series of stories describing modern day slavery among Burmese and Cambodian migrants sold to or held by Thai fishing boat captains. Consumers have filed lawsuits against Mars, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé SA and Costco Wholesale for selling slavery-tainted seafood products (farmed shrimp and pet food).