Global business leaders take action against forced labour

The CEOs of Coca-Cola, Mars Incorporated, Metro Group, Alibaba, and more have pledged their support for the cause.

Global business leaders from the fast-moving consumer goods sector have come together to pledge their support to end forced labour across the world.

Declarations include those from the CEOs of The Coca Cola Company, Alibaba, Mars Incorporated, Metro Group, Procter and Gamble, Danone, Majid Al-Futeim Group, City Mart, and other retail giants.

The call to action was made one day prior to the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), which officially kicks off in Singapore today (June 13).

Issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and with the support of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the commitment is a strong affirmation of CGF members’ commitment to strive to eradicate forced labour from global supply chains and continue not to tolerate forced labour within own operations. 

The CGF says businesses are now starting to acknowledge the scale of the challenge, and are seeking to accelerate action to eliminate forced labour, in alignment with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and other international frameworks.

While governments are responsible for protecting human rights including ensuring that national laws and regulations protect against forced labour; each business has a responsibility to respect human rights in its value chains and operations.

Business leaders have the opportunity to eradicate forced labour through the global mainstreaming of the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour, which states that:

  • Every worker should have freedom of movement;
  • No worker should pay for a job; and
  • No worker should be indebted or coerced to work.

Grant Reid, CEO, Mars, Incorporated, says the company, which started its fight against forced labour two years ago, remains committed to the cause.

“This is a call to action to accelerate the tangible steps we are taking as an industry, matching our commitment with concrete results and improvements in the lives of vulnerable people.  We need to increase the pace of change on this critical issue,” Reid says.

Olaf Koch, Chairman of the Management Board, METRO AG and Co-Chair of CGF Board, echoed Reid’s sentiments, saying that “forced labour is a complex issue that cannot be solved without cross-sectoral collaboration”.

“We, at Metro Group encourage you to rise to the challenge, and stand united with us in the global fight against forced labour. We thank the leaders from our industry and global partners, ILO and IOM, for joining us on this collective journey.”

The Consumer Goods Forum takes place at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands from June 13 to 15, and features talks from CEOs of Alibaba, Grab, Singtel, Carrefour China, Dairy Farm, and many more.

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