Early UK ratification of ILO Forced Labour Protocol is a major step forward
This lunchtime, I’m taking part with other trade unionists, CBI representatives and ILO Director General Guy Ryder at the ratification of the International Labour Organisation’s 2014 Forced Labour Protocol, a major step forward in the eradication of modern slavery, trafficking and other elements of forced labour. Home Office junior Minister Karen Bradley MP will be signing for the UK government, making the UK only the third government in the world to ratify the Protocol.
The TUC and CBI were both represented in the committee that drafted the Protocol at the International Labour Conference in the summer of 2014, and last December, I signed a joint letter with Neil Carberry at the CBI calling on the government to ratify the Protocol, and it was great that the government responded so quickly. Niger and Norway were the first two countries to ratify, meaning that the Protocol will come into effect this November. But we hope that the UK’s ratification will encourage other countries to ratify: the International Trade Union Confederation is taking part in the ILO campaign to get 50 countries to ratify.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said:
“This is a significant and welcome development in the fight against forced labour. The United Kingdom’s ratification is a clear sign that global momentum is building in the fight against these abhorrent practices that demean and enslave millions around the world.”
In addition, the UK’s ratification gives organisations pushing for stronger action against modern slavery in the UK a boost, and will require that the UK increases access to remedy for victim such as overseas domestic workers. The TUC has emphasised how the Protocol will impact on global supply chains. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We welcome the Home Office’s move to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol. It is a clear message that the UK has joined the fight to end forced labour, people trafficking and other forms of modern day slavery. Unions and employers have worked hard to come up with a modernised approach to drive, forced labour out of the global supply chains that stock our high street shops and supermarkets.”
According to the ILO, 21 million people are victims of forced labour around the world, producing approximately US$150 billion a year in illicit profits. The practice takes many forms, from domestic work, to agriculture, fishing and construction.
UPDATE: at the event, Anooshah Farakish from the Unite National Equalities Team, who actually negotiated the Protocol, said:
“Although we already have legislation and policies to deal with forced labour, new forms of this old problem have been emerging in recent years which made the updating and supplementing Protocol necessary. By implementing the Protocol and recommendations the government can tackle these new forms of exploitation.”