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Forced labour and human trafficking

Globally, there are more than 40 million victims of modern slavery in nearly all economic sectors, often hidden in plain sight. 

The latest estimate in 2017 showed that 24.9 million people were in a situation of forced labour. Despite international migrant workers making up less than five per cent of the global workforce, they represent one in four victims of forced labour. Of this number, an estimated 16 million individuals are in the private sector, 15 per cent of whom in manufacturing and 11 per cent in agriculture and the fishing industry. The exploitation of workers in the private sector is believed to generate around USD 150 billion in illegal profits annually.

Migrant workers are among those most disproportionately affected. Despite the resilience and agency that migrant workers have, the combination of various forms of discrimination, inequality, uneven power relations and gaps in regulatory frameworks increase the vulnerabilities of migrant workers.

While not a new issue, in recent years public attention focused on the exploitation of migrant workers in global supply chains, describing threats and coercion, deception, charging of recruitment fees and costs to workers, restriction of movements, non-payment of wages and excessive working hours. These conditions have been linked to consumer products such as electronics, apparel and footwear, and agricultural goods. Similar conditions are reported in manufacturing and services, including food processing, hospitality, health care, construction and transportation.



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