Bribed officials and bonded labour grease the wheels of slavery © 123RF
Bribed officials and bonded labour grease the wheels of slavery © 123RF

Corruption facilitates modern slavery

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
posted by Paul Snell
19 February 2016

Bribes and worker ‘fees’ are the currency of slavery today. Tools and best practice will help you weed them out

Corruption isn’t just bad in itself, it can facilitate slavery – a point raised at a recent CIPS breakfast meeting on the topic of modern slavery – risks and resolutions.

Panellists at the discussion, held under Chatham House rules, were Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund, Duncan Jepson, founder of Liberty Asia, Dan Viederman CEO of labour monitors Verité, and Cath Hill, group marketing and membership director at CIPS.

It was agreed that stopping corruption could be the first step that will help you to cut out slavery. Corruption can take the form of bribes to officials to hire workers from other countries, and fees charged to workers – $1,000 to $1,500 are typical, with interest at 30–60% – result in debts they can’t repay.

Debt-bonded migrants are one of the biggest risks to supply chains when it comes to slavery. In Malaysia alone, an estimated 100,000 foreigners in electronics factories supplying major brands fall under the definition of forced labour.

For those companies not “seeking a business model around the exploitation of individuals but stumbling into engagement with slavery”, help is at hand.

Three steps to help tackle the issue:

  1. Screen risk across the supply chain to identify issues you may be exposed to.
  2. Carry out detailed investigations to find the gaps, and analyse your procurement systems to find out why they were missed.
  3. Engage with suppliers to build their capacity and knowledge, and then hold them to account.

CIPS aims to act as a hub for tools and best practice. “Nothing needs to be invented, people just need to use them to help solve the problem,” the panel concluded.

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