By: Barika McNeal Hamilton
Recently, I attended a Truckers Against Trafficking Event hosted by our Attorney General and the Alabama Trucking Association (ATA) in Montgomery that provided participants with resources to target the problem of human trafficking in our state. I was inspired to learn more and determine how I could help eliminate the issue. I am sharing my findings in hopes of raising awareness within the APC community.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that forced labor generates $150 billion in illegal profits every year. Forced or compulsory labor is all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily. The problem is especially prevalent in the construction, agriculture, manufacturing, fishing and utility industries. Millions of men, women and children are trafficked while they search for decent jobs. They are kept in debt bondage or in slavery-like conditions. According to the ILO, debt bondage often occurs when people agree to pay high recruitment fees to find work, and then these enormous debts promote the use of forcible labor.
Since 2007, there have been more than 300 cases of human trafficking in Alabama, the majority of which have been related to sex trafficking, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline. The Hotline received more than 1,100 calls and/or tips of human trafficking during that span.
In January of this year, Beh Lih Yi of the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that Top Glove, a major supplier of medical and rubber gloves to nearly 200 countries including the United States, “vowed to clean up its labour supply chain and workplace practices after cases were uncovered of migrants toiling for long hours to pay off huge debts.” The Malaysian firm employs more than 11,000 migrant workers.
Get to Know Your Supply Chain
In the wake of these revelations in a number of our most trusted brands’ supply chains, organizations are now held accountable by consumers, employees, investors and the government to maintain transparent and responsible supply chains. Companies must be vigilant in addressing the human trafficking problems that are often hidden within complex global supply chains. Responsible supply chain management is a game-changer. Companies with holistic sourcing practices can proactively respond when there are disruptions. The alternatives include legal and financial risks and inevitably a tarnished brand.