Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking: Is Business Ready to Face Up to It?
By Joanne Bauer,csrwire.com – For far too long businesses have ignored the risk of forced labor in corporate supply chains — a situation that reflects the failure not just of business, but of society at large to confront the inconvenient truth of modern day slavery. But at last we may be beginning to see a change.
The facts are knowable: courageous groups like Anti-Slavery International have sounded the alarm since the organization’s founding nearly 175 years ago, its history of activities punctuated by the campaign to lay bare the atrocities of slavery in Belgium King Leopold’s brutal regime in the “Congo Free State.”
Modern Corporations Implicated in Slavery
In the late 20th century, truth seekers began pulling back the curtain on the involvement of some of today’s most highly respected auto makers – Volkswagen [XETRA: VOW.DE], Ford [NYSE: F] and GM [NYSE: GM]- in the Third Reich’s enslavement of millions of Jews and Polish people forced to produce in its munitions factories.
The first corporate-defended lawsuit under the US Alien Tort Statute, Doe v Unocal, ended in a settlement for the victims: among the alleged crimes was forced labor of villagers in the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline by the Burmese military junta in providing security for the oil giants, Unocal and Total.
n 2006 it was discovered that slave labor in Brazil was being used to make the pig iron that ends up in Ford, Nissan [NYSE: NISSAN.NS], GM and Toyota [NYSE: TM] cars as well as Whirlpool [NYSE: WHR] and Kohler products. Most recently, Ikea made a public apology after it was discovered that in the mid-1980s, the Swedish furniture maker relied upon East German prison labor to “keep its prices low.” Read more…