WelCom June/July 2021
Modern slavery encompasses practices including forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, human trafficking and other slavery and slavery-like practices.
Engagement Manager at Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Roger Ellis says 40 million people are living in slavery. ‘It is estimated around $3.1 billion worth of goods imported into New Zealand every year are produced using forced labour or modern slavery. This is a direct attack on the dignity of people everywhere.’
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has recognised the need to act against Modern Slavery in their Draft Plan of Action against Forced Labour, People Trafficking and Slavery. But there has not yet been a commitment to effective legislation, or a date or timeline for taking critical steps.
Caritas Aotearoa, along with other leading NGOs, are calling for the New Zealand government to pass a Modern Slavery Act to ensure New Zealand businesses, government agencies and consumers do not inadvertently support forced labour, people trafficking and slavery through the purchase of goods or services across global supply chains. A group of NGOs plan to present a petition to Parliament on 1 June this year.
Caritas is calling for effective legislation that would target modern day slavery by:
- empowering consumers and businesses to make informed choices and use their economic power to stand against modern slavery;
- levelling the playing field for businesses, preventing businesses who engage risky supply chains that use forced labour from achieving economic advantage; and
- ensuring that New Zealand upholds values of respect for human rights and dignity.
New Zealand is a country with a reputation for fairness and equity, and its lack of progress in this area is at odds with this reputation says Roger. ‘As a Catholic organisation we feel a sense of urgency to demand justice for our enslaved brothers and sisters. Join us in taking action against modern slavery by emailing the Minister for Workplace Relations at: firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to the Hon Michael Woods, Minister for Workplace Safety, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Together we can make a difference.’