Industry giants unite to eradicate forced labour in global supply chains

© iStock

Brands such as The Cola-Cola Company, Unilever and Tesco have shared their stories on how they eradicated forced labour in their global supply chains in a recently published report.

The report was published during The Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Summit held in Berlin this week (20-23 June).

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is an industry network driven by members to encourage global adoption of practices and standards that serve the consumer goods industry worldwide.

The publication, Business Actions Against Forced Labour, has stories from 12 member companies of the CGF, including: Marks and Spencer; Mars Incorporated; Metro Group; Migros; Nestle S.A.; Tesco; The Coca-Cola Company; The Colgate-Palmolive Company; The Kellogg Company; The Walt Disney Company; Unilever and Walmart.

The stories contain details on how these industry giants are tackling forced labour and how they promote sustainable business practice.

Widespread problem

The CGF say forced labour is an endemic social problem in global supply chains and it is a problem that cannot be solved by one company alone.

Thus, the organisation says collaboration and best practice sharing is the way forward.

The publication follows the CGF’s announcement in January 2016 calling for industry commitment on forced labour.

Writing in the foreword for the booklet, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, high commissioner for human rights, says “virtually every country is touched in some way by this modern form of slavery”.

Al Hussein estimates there are 21 million victims of forced labour, especially in countries where governance is poor.

The booklet also states that forced labour is the most profitable global crime, bringing in $150 billion (€134 billion) annually in illicit revenues.

Companies stand together

The report includes stories from CEOs and directors of key industry players, in which they share best practices on how to ensure forced labour is not included in their supply chain. Best practise advice was also on offer including awareness training, grievance mechanisms and cooperative action.

The CGF added that the report was the first step in ending forced labour globally.

“The Business Actions Against Forced Labour booklet showcases concrete practices led be CGF members to tackle forced labour in global supply chains,” said social sustainability director at CDF, Didier Bergeret.

“By bringing the industry together through activities and tools like this booklet, the CGF can help inspire corporate, governmental and civil society actors to collectively move towards a world that is free of this endemic social problem.

"The CGF looks forward to continuing to provide a platform for collective action and cross-sectoral cooperation as we all strive to eradicate forced labour once and for all”.

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