Forced labor is a global human rights issue affecting millions. ILO reports Asia-Pacific has the highest number, followed by Africa and Arab States. In 2021, 28 million people were in slave labor.
This problem is particularly prevalent in the global technology industry, where products are often produced through complex and fragmented supply chains involving many suppliers and subcontractors in countries with weak labor laws.
What is Forced Labor?
Forced labor is a form of exploitation where individuals are made to work against their will, often under the threat of punishment or other forms of coercion. This type of labor is usually performed by people forced into it due to poverty, debt, or other vulnerabilities, and they are often deprived of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
What is Forced Labor in the Technology Industry Supply Chain?
Forced labor in the technology industry supply chain refers to the exploitation of workers involved in the production, distribution, and disposal of technology products and services. It is a form of modern slavery that can occur at any stage of the supply chain, from the extraction of raw materials to the disposal of electronic waste.
Workers in the technology industry supply chain may be subject to various forms of exploitation, including human trafficking and forced labor. They may be forced to work long hours in unsafe and inhumane conditions for little or no pay. Many are also subjected to physical and verbal abuse and may be deprived of their freedom of movement and the right to leave their jobs
Global Forced Labor Trade and Supply Chain Regulations
To address the issue of modern-day slavery or forced labor, governments and international organizations have implemented regulations and guidelines for business. These new and emerging forced labor regulations and their requirements are shifting the burden of proof to companies and industries to provide evidence that their imported items are not produced with forced labor.
The US Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), the German Supply Chain Act, the proposed EU ban on products created using forced labor, and Canada’s Fighting Against Forced and Child Labor in Supply Chains Act all have various due diligence requirements for companies across multiple industries.
Importance of Addressing Forced Labor in Electronic Supply Chains.
Various global Force Labor regulations and guidelines have been implemented to help eliminate and eradicate this practice, and companies must do their part. Some companies have taken steps to improve working conditions at their sites, and their suppliers' sites to ensure forced labor and other human rights abuses are not present in their supply chain, but more has to be done.
2023 Updates to Forced Labor Regulations
New regulations and regulatory updates are coming in 2023, with several revolving around forced labor. This trend aims to entrench ESG principles, human rights, and corporate responsibility into supply chains. The ever-changing landscape of global regulations can expose your organization to potential risks that can threaten your business continuity and reputation.