Slavery is an integral part of 21st century capitalism, hard wired into global supply chains.
The ILO estimates that there are 21 million slaves in the world today. The shocking and brutal world of 12 Years a Slave should belong to the history books – but it is reality for many people today. At USi, we’ve highlighted cases of slavery, bonded and forced labour, and joined campaigns for workers’ rights across the world.
Here are some key modern day slavery flash points
Qatar is a slave state in the desert. Almost all work is done by migrant workers, under the kefala visa sponsorship scheme, that ties workers to their employers, and takes away their ability to find a voice and organise. The ITUC estimates that preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will lead to 4,000 deaths.
Blood bricks is our campaign to highlight slavery and bonded labour in the brick kiln industry in India. This came to shocking prominence recently when two workers had their hands chopped off for refusing to work. We are supporting Prayas in India to release bonded labourers and organise brick kiln workers into unions.
Thai fishing industry. A recent exposé has shown that the Thai prawn industry – supplying supermarkets around the world – is built on slave labour.
Rana Plaza The Rana Plaza disaster exposed the conditions suffered by the workers making our clothes, who are often locked into unsafe factories. Global unions are working hard to get clothing brands to take responsibility for their supply chains, and to support these workers to organise.
Domestic workers The 16th of June is International Domestic Workers’ Day. Domestic Workers around the world are campaigning to get their countries to ratify ILO Convention 189 on the Rights of Domestic Workers. This Sunday, domestic workers will be gathering in London and New York to express solidarity, and to ask the UK Government to ratify the Convention, and bring back the domestic workers’ visa. Currently, migrant domestic workers are tied to their employer. Find out more here, and join them online on the day to share solidarity messages with the #J4DW hashtag.
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