IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the British Embassy in Viet Nam, with support from the Swedish Embassy and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) are hosting a workshop on sustainable sourcing and ethical labour practices for private sector partners in Ho Chi Minh City today (20 March 2018).
Modern-day slavery remains a major global challenge, with an estimated 40.3 million victims in 2016. Approximately 25 million of those were victims of forced labour, with the highest prevalence in the Asia-Pacific region. Over half of the victims were found working for private sector companies across almost all sectors.
“When acting responsibly, business is a strong partner to end and remedy situations of modern slavery, but more importantly prevent it in the first place,” said David Knight, IOM Chief of Mission for Viet Nam and Regional Coordinator for Viet Nam, Cambodia and Lao PDR. “IOM is part of a growing alliance of like-minded actors seeking to promote the understanding that doing good for workers and their families is also good for business.”
Consumer demand in Asia for responsibly sourced products has been growing rapidly in recent years, and many companies have robust internal policies in place that address labour and human rights risks within their own operations and supply chains.
“The UK 2015 Modern Slavery Act gives law enforcement the tools to fight modern slavery, ensure suitably severe punishments for those responsible, and enhance support and protection for victims,” said British Ambassador to Viet Nam Giles Lever. “The reporting requirements under the Act, as well as similar laws in France, the Netherlands and California, mean that companies need to show the goods and services they produce are free from any connection with modern slavery and human trafficking. Preventing abusive recruitment and labour practices is no longer an optional corporate social responsibility action. It is increasingly an essential requirement for all global brands.”
Bringing together representatives from over 40 companies including Coats, ECCO, IKEA, Adecco, Hogan Lovells and Decathlon, as well as local businesses, the Ho Chi Minh workshop examined legal frameworks and practical solutions to promote responsible business principles and ethical labour practices. These can not only contribute to the prevention and elimination of modern slavery in supply chains, but can also provide a pathway to sustainable business development in Viet Nam.
During his keynote speech Ian Pascoe, Managing Partner at Grant Thornton, pointed to the positive business impact for companies in Viet Nam of ensuring they conform to internationally recognised standards on labour and ethical business practices: “These investments pay back substantially and are critical in today’s modern trading environment, which is highly interconnected and where consumers are increasingly informed through social media,” he noted.
“Migrants moving to urban centres within Viet Nam or across borders for work are opportunity seekers with specific vulnerabilities and need special attention and action from the business community,” added Knight. “As labour mobility around the world continues to grow, IOM wants companies to make a greater effort to ensure ethical recruitment and equal treatment of migrant workers.”
IOM’s 2017-2022 regional CREST programme – Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking – is funded by the Regional Development Cooperation Section at the Embassy of Sweden in Thailand. It facilitates multi-stakeholder consultations to promote good corporate practice and public-private partnerships. It also partners with international companies to enhance supply chain transparency and build the capacities of all actors across the supply chain to adhere to international social and labour standards in the context of labour mobility.
For more information please contact:
Maximilian Pottler at IOM Viet Nam
Tel: +84 283 822 2057
Some photos from this event: