Consumer goods companies focus on forced labour

7th December 2016

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The Consumer Goods Forum has identified priorities for its work to eliminate debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery from supply chains.

The business group, which includes around 400 retailers, manufacturers and service providers worldwide, wants companies to work collaboratively on the issue. In January, its board of directors approved a plan to eradicate forced labour from members’ supply chains.

Following industry research and consultations, it has identified three of the most problematic, but common, employment practices across the world that can lead to poor or illegal labour practices.

It wants its members to focus on three principles:

  • workers are allowed to move freely, without hindrance from their employer;
  • workers should never be asked to pay for a job, all fees and costs associated with employment should be paid by the employer; and
  • no worker should be indebted or coerced to work, works should be aware of the terms and conditions of their work and paid regularly.

The principles are supported by the International Labour Organization and Oxfam, and the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has decided to initially focus on the seafood and palm oil industries. It wants members to act in their own operations, but also promote the adoption of the principles across the industry.

Mars, Tesco, Coca-Cola and Walmart are leading the organisation’s work on forced labour.

Peter Freedman, managing director at the CGF, said: ‘These principles must be mainstreamed on a global scale so that they may lead to the necessary changes needed to remove forced labour from international supply chains. No one company can tackle it alone; we need to work together through cross-sector collaborations.’


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