Sub-Saharan migrants sit on an overcrowded raft during a rescue operation by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms in the central Mediterranean Sea, north of the coastal Libyan city of Sabratha last year. Picture: REUTERS/GIORGOS MOUTAFIS
Sub-Saharan migrants sit on an overcrowded raft during a rescue operation by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms in the central Mediterranean Sea, north of the coastal Libyan city of Sabratha last year. Picture: REUTERS/GIORGOS MOUTAFIS

Kuala Lumpur — Migrant workers can now rate their recruiters and warn others of potential abuses on a global portal aimed at stamping out modern slavery that mirrors reviews on the travel website TripAdvisor.

From domestic workers to construction labourers, about 25-million people were trapped in forced labour in 2016, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the charity Walk Free Foundation.

Desperate to escape poverty at home, many migrant workers pay fees to recruitment agencies to secure a job abroad, but campaigners say they can end up trapped in bonded labour.

Recruitment Advisor, was launched in April in four languages, and allows migrant workers to review their experiences in a bid to help others avoid unscrupulous recruiters.

"One can choose a recruitment agency with good ratings," said Ira Rachmawati from the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which runs the portal. "We want to promote fair recruitment. If the agency is doing fair recruitments, they could contribute to helping migrant workers making an informed decision," the project officer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Tuesday.

Available in English, Indonesian, Tagalog and Nepali in the first phase, the ITUC — which represents 207-million workers globally — said the website empowers workers to learn about their rights through the peer-to-peer reviews.

It has more than 10,000 recruitment agencies listed on its website, and workers will be asked to review areas ranging from recruitment fees, to employment contract and working conditions.

The website is one of the latest initiatives looking to tap technologies from blockchain to mobile apps to combat slavery and human trafficking, which generate profits of $150bn a year globally according to UN figures.

A website similar to Recruitment Advisor was started in 2014 for Mexican migrants working in the US, but the ITUC said its initiative has a global target.

Alex Ong from advocacy group Migrant Care, however, warned that the industry needs an overhaul and recruiters should be cut from the system entirely to prevent exploitation. "[Recruiters] have an ultimate motive of making profits from migrant workers."

Reuters