'Modern slavery' laws put Kiwi companies under pressure to stamp out abuse
Fri, 27 May 2016 13:54
A new law in the United Kingdom is putting pressure on New Zealand companies to track down slavery or human rights abuse in their supply chains.<br> <br> Under the Modern Slavery Act, companies doing business in the UK are now requiredÂ to publish an annual statement on slavery and human trafficking on their websites.<br> <br> Firms have to either describe steps taken to ensure no such activity is taking place in their business andÂ supply chains, or admit that nothing has been done.<br> <br> Many Kiwi companies have a presence in the UK, and all of those with a turnover greater than Ã‚Â£36 million (NZ$78 million) will be affected.<br> <br> <strong>READ MORE:<br> * <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/fashion/79237038/which-new-zealand-fashion-retailers-make-the-ethics-grade.html" title="">Which New Zealand fashion retailers make the ethics grade?</a><br> * <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79373464/customers-push-for-fashion-without-exploitation" title="">Customers push for fashion - without exploitation</a><br> * <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/75293120/human-trafficking-exploitation-rife-in-new-zealand--peter-mihaere" title="">Human trafficking, exploitation 'rife' in New Zealand</a><br> * <a href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/68739974/Slavery-on-NZ-seas-rape-bonded-labour-and-abuse-widespread-on-fishing-boats" title="">Slavery on NZ seas: rape, bonded labour and abuse widespread on fishing boats</a></strong><br> <br> Daniel King, a consultant at the Nature of Business who helps companies identify labour risks, said other countries were taking the law change seriously.<br> <br> "In Denmark, everyone's falling over themselves to put something in place."<br> <br> King said New Zealand organisations should definitely be concerned, with abuses not just taking placeÂ in supply chains overseas.<br> <br> "There are certainly cases of employees, especially migrants, being exploited here in our country."<br> <br> Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue said there had been cases of exploitation in the likes of the hospitality, horticulture, viticulture and dairy industries.<br> <br> "People think it's not happening in our backyard, but it certainly is."<br> <br> Blue said some operators would be aware that abuse of labour rights was taking place, and needed to be dealt with seriously.<br> <br> Other businesses might be oblivious of what was going on, with more education "desperately needed".<br> <br> Blue said the majority of businesses with overseas supply chains would not necessarily have thought about labour rights issues.<br> <br> But with "huge momentum" gathering internationally, Kiwi companies would increasingly be expected to have a policy in place.<br> <br> Blue said some companies were proactively leading the way, including the likes of Coca-Cola, Unilever and Countdown.<br> <br> The UK law change was a response to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.<br> <br> Eight countries have created national action plans to implement the principles, while another 30 or so are developing plans.<br> <br> Blue said developing a national action plan for New Zealand would not happen overnight.