ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour Webinar – ILO’s 11 indicators on forced labour

ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour Webinar – ILO’s 11 indicators on forced labour


This is a webinar that’s being done
on the operational indicators of forced labour and we’re doing it under the
umbrella of the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour. Just as a brief
recap as I think many of you have heard before and we’re a global business
network building a future without forced labour we bring together companies of all
sizes and sectors as well as other business networks to work collectively on
this issue. We’re focused on driving action, scale and sustainability through
collaboration and collaboration being the key word there for us particularly
in terms of the fact that we look to connect various actors from smaller enterprises to
larger enterprises and make sure that everybody is part of this conversation
going forward. We also look to convene different types of actors so this refers to
for example engaging with government bodies to ensure that we are able to
raise key messages with them. We look for innovative solutions that are able to drive
scale in various parts of the world and also to focus on country level
engagement and interaction particularly with employee and business membership
organization sectoral associations at country level to drive locally owned and
locally driven solutions. And fourthly we’re very much about providing support
and this webinar very much for us falls into that category
are being able to provide clear and actionable information to business to
help them understand further the topic of forced labour as well as the solutions Essentially forced labor for us is very
much grounded in the ILO’s Convention 29 which was adopted in 1930 and this
definition that you see on your screen there is all work or service that is
exacted it from any persons under the menace of penalty and for which that
person has not offered him or herself voluntarily so the indicators that we’ll
see in a moment give life to this definition but there are three important
parts of this definition which means that it pertains to all work or service
and the definition also comes with two parts in the sense that the work must be
undertaken involuntarily but also under the threat or menace of penalty
these are two key parts of this definition just to give you an idea of
the scale of the problem at present the ILO estimates that there are 25 million
people in forced labour globally of that they are 20.8 million
working in the private economy and we like to illustrate through the numbers
on the screen there in terms of the region wise that this is really a
problem that is global. There is forced labour present in every region of the
world we do see for example the highest prevalence in Asia Pacific but no country or no
region is immune to the issue. The same for industry or sectors no industry is
immune but we also do see in certain prevalence in different sectors such as that of construction, manufacturing as well as domestic work at this point I’ll turn over to my
colleague Luiz who will take you through the operational indicators. Hello
everyone as mentioned as well I’m going to talk about the ILO’s 11 indicators. It’s
not a magic number we just came up with these main indicators of course
sometimes they do subgroup into others we’ll talk about it later in the
presentation but these indicators we call them
operational indicators okay so they should provide the basis for a clear and
common set of criteria to identify forced labour in practice so the key word
here is identified its for identification so each indicator
represents a measurable variable okay I’m sorry also if I don’t look directly
at the camera because I have to look at the screen so I don’t miss any points. So
the need for indicators we have some questions here on these needs first – what –
so we want to translate international instruments and national legislation
into concrete and operational indicators how do we break down these legislation
or these standards into subdivisions which will
help us in this identification process. Why – so for detection for the screening
of potential victims as mentioned identification protection
and then the prosecution this helped at all levels since the filing of a
complaint by a potential victim and till the point of prosecution and
conviction so these indicators they help in all these phases
and also to produce statistics we do have some new resolutions from the
International Conference of Labour Statistics
the called the so-called ICLS they worked in 2018 on a definition for
statistical purposes or forced labour so they do not use specifically these 11
indicators they have developed their own methodology for statistics so it’s
important to make it clear that they do not use the same indicators. So for whom
these indicators that we’re going to talk about are relevant so police officers,
labour inspectors, NGOs, trade unions, employers, social auditors, healthcare
etc etc etc anyone wants to really identify a situation of forced
labour where we usually use it at national, regional, local, and sector based
levels. And how do we do it? So based on experience on practice also with
research and knowledge. So let’s go to the indicators this is
the cover of the booklet we did publish and disseminate with the list of the
indicators which will now see. So how to use these indicators usually to spot
a sign or a yellow or even a red flag for example if you see in the workplace
bars on windows, locked doors, fences or even guarded entrances, exits,
surveillance cameras, workers that sleep at the workplace, curfews, and accompanied
visits, this can for example indicates restriction of movements so it raises
automatically a red flag in this case we also check for causes by
investigating further so it’s very important that you look into the
situation because one indicator alone may not by itself characterize the
situation of forced labour you may have to gather a few of these indicators but
a few of them or a couple of them alone they already do indicate forced labor
and I’ll talk about this when we get to them. But we should go further
by asking is there a good explanation for this to be happening? And what are
the reasons for this restriction? Also gather additional evidence so conduct
separate interviews from workers and employers. It’s always good to not do it
together, the workers they may feel they may feel under pressure or not
comfortable to speak openly also inspect working areas sleeping areas and
surroundings so go beyond the workplace, look for other signs that could
reinforce the presence of an indicator, and also consider off the clock or
surprise inspections. So this is an example of how to use the indicators
related to restriction of movement. So the list of indicators
are these so abusive of vulnerability, deception, restriction of movements,
isolation, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, retention of
identity documents, withholding of wages, debt bondage, abusive living and working
conditions, and excessive overtime. So beginning with abuse of vulnerability. It’s very important to mention that anyone can be a victim of forced labour
and trafficking we’ve had several cases I mean it’s more common to see poor
people or those who who are in a more a poor situation instead of the richer but
we do have cases of rich people being deceived into trafficking and forced
labour but certain characteristics make people more vulnerable, for example
people with disabilities, physical or mental, the age so children and minors
they are more vulnerable, those who do not have a residence or in the case of a
migrant worker a legal status in the country or the work permit is tied to
the employer for example the Kafala system in the Middle East, or irregular
work status, poverty, or lack of education as I mentioned before, and even migrant
workers with different nationality status. So these this list of course is
just a sample but it shows us how these factors can increase vulnerability and
also situations of multiple dependency, for example if you depend on housing on
the food, on jobs for family members as well, it may put you into higher risk.
And we should also ask did the employer take advantage of the workers vulnerabilities,
or any of these vulnerabilities, and did the employer or recruiter create or
contribute to the (workers) situation of vulnerability. So the employer should not
manipulate the worker or create a situation to take advantage of this
vulnerability. The second one would be deception so it’s often related to
recruitment, in the recruitment phase, so example false promises regarding the
wages, housing and living conditions, the nature of the job, the job location,
the legal status, so it’s very common that workers are promised one thing and
then when they get to the workplace it’s a totally different reality. Sometimes
we need to attend to the so called substitution of contracts so when
the worker arrives there is a new contract. Even contracts in another
language making it difficult to understand the terms for the worker and
no employment contracts even just a verbal contract which makes it difficult
for the worker to prove what were the conditions agreed. And possible questions
that one can ask is how did the worker learn about this job, what was the worker
promised, and is the worker vulnerable to deception. So based on the previous
slides we can look at that list and if he or she had known the real conditions
would he or she have accepted the job? This is the category for deception and we do have next restriction of movement we didn’t mention already a
few elements here but it’s also important to say it can occur during
the recruitment phase while being transported at the workplace or at the
workplace. So it can be during the first phase of
the trafficking and also at the exploitation phase. Workers can have
movements controlled by obvious means for example we mentioned locked or
surveillance cameras or guards but their movements can also be controlled by less
obvious ways. Workers might only be permitted to leave the worksite
if accompanied by an agent of or the employer. So this is to control the
worker and curfew might be imposed, or the absence of a workers duration from
the workplace might be always monitored. And it’s always much easier to control
the workers movements if they sleep in the premises so we should also look into
why are the workers sleeping at the same place they’re working. Moving on we
have isolation. I’m including here three cases or three examples of
isolation so it becomes a bit clearer for us. A migrant worker who doesn’t
speak the local language is not allowed to talk or write to anyone even his/her
parents even if the person did speak the language still if the person is not
allowed to contact anyone, to use communication tools, or equipment, we
consider this person to be in isolation. Also (for example) a worker who performs the work and
lives at a textile factory and his or her mobile is confiscated so again it’s
making it difficult for the person to reach anyone else outside the workplace.
And then a person who works in a farm in a remote location that isn’t accessible
or the worker doesn’t even know where he or she is and even how to get out of
that situation or that place or even to reach the nearest town. So there are
images here of some workplaces where workers were found
in forced labour situations. So one of strong indicators we have is physical
and sexual violence so it’s easy to identify, it’s easier, to identify the
physical violence because there are visible injuries or untreated injuries. A
bit more difficult in the case of sexual violence but there are signs we can look
at, for example when the worker shows anxiety or fear, employers that show
aggression towards the worker, so we have to be always looking into these
different signs sometimes they’re very subtle but they can represent a
situation where we have to look into more carefully. Just an image of a worker
who was physically abused this is an iron to mark the cattle so the worker
was marked several times with hot iron. And then we have intimidation and
threats. So as you remember from the definition from Convention 29 forced
labour is any workers service exact it by a person where he did not present
himself or voluntarily and under any any kind of threat. So we must evaluate from
the workers’ perspective these threats. And we can include abuse directed at
other workers as well I mean when other workers are threatened it can be used to
serve an example through the whole group for example. So some quotes we got from
interviews with workers are – “you’ll be deported” or “the police will arrest you
if you leave the house or the workplace” or “you’re worthless and stupid” and so
and so on. So these cases of threats they many
times are used to restricts or to trap the worker into forced labour. And then
retention of identity documents it’s also very common means of control
especially with migrant workers. Many workers feel they cannot leave the
workplace without risking the loss of their identity documents, such as their
passports and without such documentation they may feel helpless and unable to get
other jobs or access services or maybe even too afraid to ask authorities
for help especially if the migrant workers are in an irregular situation in
the country they’re working. And then we have withholding of wages and the key
question here is are these wages purposely withheld so that the worker
cannot freely terminate the employment or change employer. Other signs that
we can look to into are does the employer have a record of payments or
wage records and have these been altered in any way. Also our wages paid to a
third party or to an account controlled by an employer – how are these wages paid
to the worker. Is the worker a paid less than a minimum wage or less than the
agreed. Is there a large percentage of wages paid in kind which shouldn’t.
Workers are paid irregularly and payments are delayed
constantly. And also if workers are subjected to excessive or illegal wage
deductions. Okay so there is even a very common term used at the ILO and United
States which is wage theft which can lead also into our next indicator which
is debt bondage. One of the most common forms of
forced labour which is the work that is used as a means of repaying a debt so
when the value of the service offered are not properly assessed without clear
limit or duration and nature so an illegal debt is created so that you can
trap the worker into that working relationship, into forced labour, and the
terms of repayment are not clear or even nonexistence and excessive recruitment
and transportation costs are charged to the worker. So we can also refer to the
ILO’s General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment and the
Definition of Recruitment Fees and Related Costs these were adopted the
definitions were adopted in 2018. Ao quite recent
but these recruitment fees and transportation costs many times they’re
used to inflate a debt so that the worker can never pay it off. Food and
accommodation are charged also at inflated prices and many times depending on
national context foods and accommodation they should be provided by
the employer so not even charged by the employer. So extremely high interest
rates as well a manipulation of this debt and that amounts are manipulated
are or falsified as I did already mention. It’s very common to see
employers that keep records of these debts owed by workers so there are several
cases where we found notebooks or pieces of paper with the debt of each
individual worker. Moving on, we have abusive living and working conditions. So
the key question here is has the worker been coerced
into remaining in a situation that other workers or another person would not
endure so for example I see no best way of presenting this than by using
pictures so I’ll go through some cases and please look at the the these images
that I did include here. So for example hazardous work is one key element of
abusive working conditions, also inadequate protective gear and training, inadequate sanitation facilities. this
both for the working and the living conditions, and this image here is of an
actual in quotes toilets. I took this picture when I followed an inspection
raid. Poor lighting and poor ventilation we see it a lot and sweatshops also the
lack of heat especially in wintertime the lack of running and drinking
water adequate food etc. So the image on the left you can see some fish drying
because there is no way to heat the food, to store the food properly, there’s no
fridge in this case, and on the right you can see the water that the workers were
drinking in this situation and even bathing you see there’s a soap right
next to it and it is very common to see animals – cattle, horses – drinking the same
water also over overcrowding, limited or no privacy. We do see many
living or lodging conditions of extreme overcrowding 20-15 people sleeping in the
same room in the same space and also gender mix or children together with
adults so there are all sorts of problems with this including drug abuse,
alcohol abuse, and sexual violence. And lastly excessive overtime. So excessive
overtime doesn’t mean that long hours would amount to forced labour of course
in excess of national legislation. We have always to be careful to look
into the national and legal context. But excessive overtime also means the work
that the the work that the worker has to endure during the times that he or she
is actually executing the job so they should always prompt for further
investigation. We should look for following signs so is the work piece
rate for paid per piece and bound to unrealistic production targets pushing
the workers always to work more and more and to work long hours. Is overtime
needed to reach a minimum wage? Is working hours loosely defines if at all?
Or person who a person who works on the call 24 hours a day seven days a week?
This doesn’t mean again it is a forced labour situation but it can raise a flag
a yellow flag for example also if breaks are denied even days off and free time.
We have seen cases of workers who worked seven days a week
12 to 14 hours a day. Over time beyond national law and
collective agreements, and also penalty if overtime is refused for example
blacklisting workers. So we come almost to the end but before we finish there is
a short video we would like you to watch. And just to say not to worry if you
don’t hear sound it’s just an illustrative video there’s there’s no
sound that accompanies it. So just to update the figure at the end
the new estimate is that we have 25 million people in forced labour, not 21
anymore. I think we do have a list of reference material but you can find.
We’ll share this list and you can also find them in the Business
Network’s website – it’s a very comprehensive list of tools and other
material on forced labour. Here they are. Do you want to mention anything?
Just to say that we will share all the slides with you and these are hyperlinks
here that you’ll be able to access. You will also have seen earlier on in the slides
you will have seen the links to the guidelines on fair recruitment as well
as the definition on recruitment costs and fees and at this point we’ll stop
for question and answers. Thank you very much Luiz for the comprehensive
overview and please feel free to either use the chat function to contact us or
to use the question-and-answer. You can also of course, if you would like to
raise your hand using that function, and we will be able to enable you to to speak
to us directly so please go ahead. I will stop the slideshow for the moment just
to be able to better control the controls of the meeting Okay not too many questions coming in
but maybe we share a question that we had earlier from a colleague which was back to
this point a little bit around the fact that often national legislation has
varying guidance on forced labour and increasingly there are a number of
different laws coming into play and what the role of business should be in terms
of taking action. I think from ILO perspective we always encourage business
to first and foremostly look at the national context in which they’re
working, to look at national law and what this refers to you as well as of course
to look at International guidance and to see how you could for example ensure
that you are adhering to international labour standards with regards to forced
labour in particular. And so they are through the materials that will we will
share the links to you and you’ll see a couple of key actions that business can
take and that you can share with those that you work with for example.
Increasingly of course additional guidance coming out on recruitment which
is an important topic given that particularly under the ILO’s protocol to
the forced labour convention it was a recognition of the fact that in there
the number of migrant workers who faced situations of forced labour is is high
and they do face additional vulnerabilities so this is an important
aspect for us to take into account. So if there any other questions we’ll
hang on to the line for a couple more minutes for you to engage or as you
mentioned we will share the recording as well as the slides for you to take a
look at the information in more detail. Okay
no questions, everybody is very silent today. Understandably so, many of you
joining early in your morning so thank you to all who have joined and for
taking the time to be with us today. We will share a follow-up email with you as
soon as possible. And please feel free to reach out to us the business networks’
website is flbusiness.network and there you will find contact details
where you can reach us directly, should you have follow-up questions. But thank
you again to everybody for joining the call. Thank you very much and from our
Brazilian participants Obrigado

Author: Kevin Mason

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