Migrant workers are frequently confronted with a choice: pay illegal or unethical recruitment fees for employment abroad or go without work altogether. To finance these exorbitant costs, they may take out loans that leave them vulnerable to debt bondage, a form of forced labor. For more than a decade, Verité has worked with global companies in diverse sectors to ensure their suppliers and business partners absorb the true cost of recruitment and prohibit the charging of recruitment costs to workers, in accordance with international standards and regulations.
In 2018, we conducted ground-breaking research, amplified our impact, and engaged with multinational brands to help eliminate labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains. Explore a selection of our achievements in assessments, consulting, policy, research, and training below.
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.
Coffee represents Guatemala’s largest export—valued at over USD $1.1 billion in 2012—with the United States as its leading importer, meaning prominent brands source significantly from the country. The Guatemalan agricultural sector constitutes its largest source of employment, with coffee as the country’s most important crop—providing employment for 90,000 small coffee farmers and 473,000 workers (seven percent of the workforce).
Earlier this month, Patagonia disclosed that focused foreign contract worker (FCW) assessments—conducted by Verité on its behalf—at material supplier factories in Taiwan revealed that it can take foreign workers up to two years of a three-year employment contract to pay off recruitment-related debt.