Forced labour is any work exacted from men and women based on coercion rather than incentive and consent. Although forced labour exists around the world, according to ILO’s global estimate on the minimum number of forced labour the majority - two thirds of 12.3 million - of victims are in the Asia-Pacific region, some of whom are working for private employers engaged in valuable and legitimate economic activity. A significant percentage of the victims are trapped into forced labour as an outcome of trafficking. Some practices imposed by employers are obviously forced labour while others may be too ambiguous to define their nature (employers requiring their workers to perform overtime without advance notice, well beyond the limits permitted by law; irregular payments or large deductions from wages; unscrupulous recruitment agencies charge employers exorbitant fees that are subsequently deducted from workers' wages). There is a “gray zone” in which the boundary separating forced labour and poor working conditions remains difficult to define. It is then important for employers to refrain from the practices that risk entering into this gray zone.
This project will aim to address the “demand side” of trafficking for labour exploitation, by not only extending the coverage of the awareness raising and capacity building activities from a limited number of employers to a larger scale and multiplying the number of the beneficiaries, but also producing practical tools including good practices and lessons learnt that could be easily incorporated into business management agendas by employers.
In summary, the project is comprised of the principal activities in common for China, Vietnam and Mongolia aiming at:
- Developing Codes of Practice for employers;
- Awareness-raising and advocacy campaign;
- Data collection, research and surveys involving the academic community (In partnership with employers' organizations in these Asian countries, carrying out research and surveys on working conditions in private sectors, particularly in sectors vulnerable to forced labour or labour exploitation, such as construction, mines, and textile industry).