ILO Forced Labour Convention

United Kingdom joins renewed fight to end forced labour

The UK has ratified the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930, adding its support to Norway and Niger in the campaign to end modern slavery.

News | 22 January 2016
UK Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley and ILO Director-General Guy Ryder
LONDON (ILO News) – The United Kingdom has ratified a landmark ILO agreement to combat forced labour, people trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 aims to prevent forced labour and provide support for its victims. The UK now joins Niger and Norway as one of the first nations to sign the Protocol.

“This is a significant and welcome development in the fight against forced labour,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, “The United Kingdom’s ratification is a clear sign that global momentum is building in the fight against these abhorrent practices that demean and enslave millions around the world.”

ILO research has shown that profits from the forced labour industry are highest in developed economies and the European Union. The Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour around the world, producing approximately US$150 billion a year in illicit profits. The practice takes many forms, from domestic work to agriculture, fishing and construction. Women and girls, in particular, are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.

UK Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said: “Sadly, forced labour can take place in any industry, but the UK Government will not stand by while criminals profit from this trade in human misery.

“That’s why we have committed to working with the International Labour Organization and other countries to make sure we are providing the strongest possible protection for victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

“Through our landmark Modern Slavery Act we are already ensuring that those who are guilty of forced labour offences can face life behind bars, and our Immigration Bill, will ensure that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority has new powers to investigate those workers being exploited.”

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the public body set up by the UK Government to fight forced labour, is a partner of the 50 for Freedom campaign against modern slavery. The campaign, led by the ILO, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), was launched in London in October 2015. Other UK partners of the 50 for Freedom campaign include the Ethical Trading Initiative and the Institute for Human Rights and Business.

The United Kingdom has a strong record in combatting forced labour. It was among the first countries to ratify the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), in 1931, and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105), in 1957. In March 2015, the “UK Modern Slavery Act” was adopted, as a critical step forwards in strengthening the legal framework for combatting all forms of forced labour.

The Protocol and Recommendation, adopted at the International Labour Conference in 2014, added new measures to the Forced Labour Convention of 1930. It requires member States to take steps to prevent forced labour, as well as to provide victims with protection and access to effective remedies. It also requires due diligence in both the public and private sectors to prevent and respond to risks of forced labour.

This article has been developed in the framework of the "50 for Freedom" campaign (ILO Bridge project)