IOM, Diginex Deploy Blockchain Solution in the Garment Manufacturing Sector in Thailand
Bangkok – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a related organization of the United Nations, today (31/05) completed the first part of its partnership with the impact tech firm Diginex Solutions (Diginex) to enhance labour supply chain monitoring and management, and better protect migrant workers with the use of blockchain technology.
This comes as the adoption of blockchain, a digital system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, in supply chains soared by nearly 40 per cent as businesses doubled down on tackling the risk of labour exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between September 2020 and May 2021, IOM and Diginex deployed eMin – a mobile-optimized and blockchain-based platform developed by Diginex and built on the open-source and secure Tezos Protocol – in the garment manufacturing sector in Thailand. eMin stores information about employment conditions and contracts, recruitment experiences and migration-associated costs, which are uploaded by migrant workers on a transparent and immutable ledger. As a result, companies can access and view real-time labour migration data, including workers’ feedback and employment contracts, with a high degree of trust, while preventing alterations to this data.
Tezos is a self-upgradable blockchain with an established history and one of the first projects to incorporate proof-of-stake - a consensus mechanism that aligns the incentives of participants to keep costs low, avoid centralization, and put network power in the hands of stakeholders.
The project rolled out by IOM and Diginex uses a unique mix of worker surveys and secure document storage for contracts to provide greater transparency on working conditions. Over 130 Myanmar migrant workers employed by a garment manufacturer located outside of Bangkok shared their experiences through the eMin app, on how they were recruited prior to the border closures in March 2020. They also shared insights on their current employment conditions, including health and safety related to COVID-19.
Employers of migrant workers who participated in the project recognized the value of the app from enabling better risk mapping to providing a feedback loop between the employer and workers to strengthen internal audits. The app was also considered a useful channel, in addition to social media platforms, for communicating information to migrant workers about the workers’ rights, entitlements and relevant company policies.
“The apparel and footwear sector is increasingly reliant on migrant workers and women – two groups that have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. As such, it is crucial that companies have the right policies, processes and business structures in place to address pressing human rights risks in their operations and the supply chain” said Leanne Melnyk, Head of Global Supply Chains at Diginex Solutions.
Melnyk added, “We believe frontier technology, including innovations such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) can revolutionize the sharing of reliable, rights-based information to suppliers and workers by reducing the information imbalance, while generating data-driven insights on implementation. We are excited by this partnership with IOM, which demonstrates how technology can be applied to drive positive change – at scale.”
Geraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission at IOM Thailand said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected migrant workers disproportionately. “Responding to migrant workers’ needs is crucial for a just and migrant-inclusive COVID-19 recovery in international supply chains. The specific risks that they are likely to face as the world transitions to a new normal must be understood and addressed,” added Ansart.
IOM’s partnership with Diginex Solutions is part of IOM’s Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking in Fashion (CREST) initiative, a regional partnership that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains. Through its direct partnerships with private companies, IOM provides strategic and practical solutions tailored to partners’ needs and supports longer-term sustainable change to better protect the rights of migrant workers through ethical recruitment, transparent employment terms and conditions, and sustainable and inclusive labour supply chains.
The project is funded by the Laudes Foundation.
For more information, please contact IOM at email@example.com