LO calls on the Swedish government to ratify the Protocol to Convention No. 29 concerning forced labour

Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Join LO Sweden and send a message to your government to ratify the protocol to end modern slavery via www.ratifytheprotocol.org

LO expects that the Swedish government takes the lead in the fight for human rights in working life. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, with a background in the Swedish labour movement, must therefore translate words into actions and ratify the Protocol to Convention No. 29.

During the International Labour Conference in 2014, the Swedish government voted in favour of adoption of a protocol to Convention 29. One year has now passed, and the government has not taken any action to ratify it. LO finds this deplorable and therefore calls on the government to start the process as soon as possible.

Niger has ratified the protocol and a few weeks ago, Norway followed as country number two. In order to prevent that the protocol becomes useless, Sweden must follow in Norway’s steps. If governments like the Swedish government do not take their responsibility and act on their decision from the ILO Conference in 2014, the
number of people who are pushed into forced labour will increase dramatically.
In Sweden, there are a great variety of working conditions. On the well-regulated part of the labour market, workers are usually covered by collective agreements and decent work. For those who are forced to work outside the established labour market, there is a great risk that they are exploited and forced to carry out work against their will. It is therefore important that Sweden provides people with the fundamental protection that follows ratification.

In a legislative resolution in September, the EU Parliament declared that each member state should develop an action plan against forced labour within the frame set by the Protocol to Convention No. 29. LO expects that the Swedish government supports the resolution and sets a good example by ratifying the protocol and establishing an action plan together with the social partners on the labour market.
Forced and slave labour must be abolished. According to the ILO, 21 million people around the world, 1,6 million of them in Europe, work in different forms of forced labour. Furthermore, the number of workers affected continues to grow. The protocol is a binding treaty that should be ratified by the member states and clarify their responsibility for the prevention of forced labour. Ratification means that the protection of the victims is strengthened at the same time as the perpetrators can be held accountable in a legal process.

In February 2015, the Swedish ILO committee stated that Sweden should ratify the protocol and that it is an important instrument to prevent and counteract forced labour. Against this background, LO considers that the government should give priority to the ratification of the Protocol to Convention No. 29 as a matter of urgency.

Translated from this original blog in Swedish

Loa Brynjulfsdottir and Oscar Ernerot
International Department
LO Sweden