The term ‘human trafficking’ describes a situation where people are recruited then subsequently threatened, forced deceived or coerced for the purposes of exploitation.
Cases involving the sex industry or criminal activities such as the cultivation of drugs and illicit organ removal tend to grab newspaper headlines. Less frequently reported is the fact around a third of trafficking victims are trafficked for the purpose of providing cheap labour in more mainstream economic sectors.
According to the UN United Nations Office on Drugs and Organised Crime (UNDOC) the agriculture, horticulture, construction, garments and textiles, catering and restaurants, food processing, health care, contract cleaning and healthcare sectors are the mainstream sectors most frequently associated with the crime of human trafficking. Many of these industries are characterised by so-called ‘3 D’ work, that is to say the work involved can be dirty, difficult or dangerous.
Listed companies can be at risk of encountering human trafficking in a number of ways:
- Through their supply chains, particularly where these involve agriculture, food processing or textiles.
- Though the use of contract or agency workers. Workers in these situations tend to receive far fewer employment protections than permanent employees and as such are more vulnerable to exploitation.
- If their services, premises or other facilities are used by traffickers. Hotels, transportation companies, tour operators, visa/travel document providers and employment agencies might inadvertently find themselves in this situation