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ILO strengthens efforts to help private sector fight forced labour and human trafficking

The International Labour Office (ILO) is to reinforce its efforts to help employers and the private sector contribute to the global fight against forced labour, which the ILO estimates afflicts more than 12 million persons worldwide.

News | 10 November 2008

The International Labour Office (ILO) is to reinforce its efforts to help employers and the private sector contribute to the global fight against forced labour, which the ILO estimates afflicts more than 12 million persons worldwide.

The Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL) of the ILO said it had prepared a new handbook that would fortify the capacity of employers and business leaders to assess the risk of forced labour and human trafficking in their operations and global supply chains.

“The role of employers and the private sector in the fight against forced labour is of paramount importance”, said Roger Plant, head of the ILO programme. “Business is increasingly asking for guidance in combating forced labour, and we intend to continue supporting them.”

The new publication entitled “Combating forced labour: A handbook for Employers and Business”, provides information on issues such forced labour, human trafficking, prison labour, debt bondage, abuses in labour contract systems, overtime and different forms of coercion in employment. It was developed in extensive consultation with experts from companies, as well as international and national employers’ organisations and civil society groups, all from different regions and economic sectors.

The handbook provides practical guidance for businesses of all kinds, including advice on what action they can take to prevent or rid forced labour in their supply chains.

The new handbook has been endorsed by the International Organization of Employers. IOE Secretary-General Antonio Peñalosa said it would provide with “much needed new tools to help employer organisations and their members understand the issue of forced labour, in taking the necessary measures to avoid being involved in those situations and in contributing to the total elimination of forced and compulsory labour”.

David Arkless, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Affairs of Manpower added that his organization “welcomed this recent initiative as an important and timely intervention, and one that will significantly help companies in all sectors address this challenging issue”.

“Employers’ organisations, in particular, are strategically well-placed to lead this work with the private sector, and business involvement is key to the success of the ILO’s campaign to rid the world of forced labour”, Mr. Plant said.