Major companies urged to stop telling antislavery ‘fairytales’
Expert says such initiatives are often substandard and fail to combat worker exploitation despite being widely hailed by the private sector
New Haven — Major corporations which claim to be committed to tackling the threat of forced labour often tell “fairytales” that belie workplace exploitation and shirk responsibility for cleaning up their supply chains, academics and activists told a conference. From tea and chocolate makers to hotels, many companies sign up to antislavery certification schemes or codes of conduct at the expense of taking direct action to engage with their workers and stamp out abuse, experts said at Yale University. Such initiatives are often substandard and fail to combat worker exploitation despite being widely hailed by the private sector, said Genevieve LeBaron, a politics professor and antislavery academic at Britain’s Sheffield University. A study by LeBaron, revealed exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in May, found some Indian tea plantations stamped slavery-free by groups such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance were abusing and underpaying workers.
“The stories that compan...