New ILO Report on global profits generated by forced labour and trafficking

Forced labour generates US$150 billion per year of illegal profits in the private economy worldwide, according to a new report released today by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

This figure is three times higher than previously estimated and is based on a new methodology that takes into account a 2012 ILO study, which found that there are 21 million people in the world who are subjected to forced labour, trafficking and modern slavery. More than half of them (56 per cent) are found in the Asia-Pacific region.

In Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, the ILO claims that two-thirds of the US$150 billion, or US$99 billion, come from sexual exploitation, where women and young girls account for the majority of victims.

The second highest profit-generating activity from forced labour encompasses sectors like construction, manufacturing and mining, where an annual US$31 billion is cashed in.

In agriculture, including forestry and fishing, the profits reach US$9 billion, while US$8 billion is made illegally every year on the back of what domestic workers should actually earn.

“This illustrates that forced labour is not only big business, regrettably, but also that forced labour is changing, it’s mutating” Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO, told Equal Times.

Yves Veyrier, French trade union leader (FO) and member of the ILO Governing Body comments on how the coming standard-setting process to supplement the ILO Forced Labour Convention no 29 (1930) should be guided by the new report.

Trafficking for labour exploitation in Europe needs to be better addressed. While actors in the field have only discovered a tip of an iceberg, any solution to the problem will require understanding of new trends, developing new responses and partnerships.

For that reason trade unions, NGOs and faith based organizations launched a partnership to contribute to anti-trafficking response in Europe. Through the new project ITUC, together with Anti-Slavery International and Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe as international partners, will improve responses to labour trafficking. The three organzations, as well as national partners in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Spain will in particular focus on exploring new trends in trafficking – such as gender dimension of labour trafficking, more and more severe exploitation of increasingly large groups of exploited migrant workers in mainstream economic activities and new labour trafficking recruitment methods including the use of Internet and ICTs.

The FINE TUNE project is supported by the ISEC/EU DG Home grant and it forms a part of the ITUC global action for protection of rights of trafficked workers and strenghtening labour standards for decent work.

See: Equal Times