Go figure: the statistics on slavery

posted by Paul Simpson
8 February 2016

Supply Management runs down the big numbers related to the big problem of modern slavery.

Only one nation, North Korea, has failed to initiate any kind of domestic legislation against any form of modern slavery. In October 2015, one UN official estimated that as many as 50,000 North Koreans may work abroad as slaves, many in the Russian timber industry.

Walk Free estimates that slave labour contributes to the production of at least 136 goods from 74 countries.

Maximum pay for a 12-hour day for migrant tomato pickers in southern Italy. The Ethical Trading Initiative estimates there are 116,000 foreign agricultural workers in Italy, many of whom are paid well below the official minimum wage of €850 a month (€5 an hour) and have to pay for residency permits (which their employers charge them for organizing).

In the past 20 years, 50,000 people working in slave like conditions in Brazil are estimated to have been freed. Forced labour has not been eliminated but the fight against it has been boosted by the National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour. By the end of 2013, 380 corporations, accounting for 30% of Brazil’s gross national product, had agreed to abide by the pact.

Walk Free estimates that 1.05m Russians – 0.7% of the country’s population – is trapped in some form of modern slavery. This is the highest incidence of slavery in any European country. This is a particularly startling statistic given that Tsar Alexander II abolished serfdom in Russia in 1861.

In 2015, around 3,500 people were arrested in the US for human trafficking offences. The US Department of Justice has announced $22m in grant funding to support 16 anti-trafficking task forces.

Many modern slaves work 7,300 hours every year – 20 hours per day, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, according to The World Counts. And they have been linked to an appalling variety of product types – from coffee to diamonds and electronics.

The National Crime Agency identified 3,309 victims of human trafficking in the UK last year, an increase of 21% on 2014. The victims came from 97 nations, with Romania the most common country of origin.

Haiti has the unwanted distinction of leading the world in child labour. One study suggested that 207,000 children under the age of 15 regularly work more than 14 hours a week and 24% of them work nights.

Grocer Ahold, which has 780 stores in 14 US states and reaches 50 million consumers, has agreed to only buy tomatoes grown by farmers in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food programme. One third of all America’s tomatoes are grown in Florida where 1,200 people have been freed from slavery rings in the last decade.

Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Falmer, Brighton
£33,797 rising to £40,322 per annum
University of Sussex
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates