The latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery by the ILO, Walk Free, and IOM found that 17.3 million people worldwide are in forced labor exploitation in the private economy, including 3.2 million in manufacturing – the majority of whom are migrant workers.
Eradicating forced labor has been the highest priority for the Responsible Business Alliance and its Code of Conduct since the organization’s inception in 2004. While the RBA Code of Conduct explicitly bans trafficked and forced labor, completely eradicating it in the global electronics industry supply chain remains a challenge. To explore how the entire industry – represented in RBA membership – can work together to eradicate trafficked and forced labor in electronics industry supply chains, the RBA began a taskforce to address this topic in 2014. For years prior to the beginning of the taskforce the RBA had also offered members online trainings and special educational opportunities during member events. For a summary statement about our work over the past decade to combat forced labor in supply chains, please click here.
The taskforce’s first priority was to analyze information from members and their supply chains to better understand the true extent of the problem, and look for trends such as high risk countries and common methods used by traffickers and agents of forced labor. With a solid understanding of the problem particular to the electronics industry, a range of activities were then considered to help members uncover, remedy and prevent future incidences of trafficked and forced labor in their supply chains. These activities include exploring better and broader training of key on-the-ground actors, review of labor agencies to help members make informed choices about working with labor brokers and a range of other actions to be taken with a multi-industry approach for the most positive impact on workers.
In 2016 we launched a specialty VAP (called the SVAP) that specifically focuses on finding indicators of forced labor. For more information on how to schedule a SVAP, please contact us. In 2017 we launched a new effort called the Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI), focused on labor agents in the supply chain and risks associated with the recruitment of foreign workers. To listen to our podcast on ethical recruitment and the RLI, please click here.
We recognize this is a journey and we are committed to continuing our multi-industry work to make a difference in this important area.