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modern slavery

Modern slavery: unions call for action

Australian unions have called for stronger action by the federal government to wipe out practices which they say amount to slavery in a modern form. 

The call was made to coincide with the World Day against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July. 

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are 21 million people worldwide who are victims of trafficking and forced labour, with the Asia Pacific region accounting for 56% of the figure. An equal number are trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labour servitude.

Unions say that recent scandals in Australia exposing exploitation on a massive scale in agricultural supply chains and the retail industry show that local employers don’t have clean hands in this area. 

In fact the 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates there are some 4,300 people living in modern forms of slavery in Australia. 

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is calling on the Turnbull Government to ratify the 2014 ILO Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention to give Australian unions more ammunition in the fight against these extreme forms of worker exploitation. 

According to ACTU Secretary, Dave Oliver, the government must ensure that there is better regulation, more transparency and greater resources should be used to prosecute those responsible, regardless of where they sit in the supply chain.

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