There are more people in slavery now than in any other time in history. The world is small and interconnected. Every time we purchase a product there is a chain reaction felt around the world. Clothing. Sugar. Electronics. No country or industry is unaffected. It’s time to make slavery in our products history.
Thank you for joining us in standing against slavery in New Zealand supply chains.
More than 37,000 New Zealanders signed a petition calling on the government to pass a Modern Slavery Act. This petition was presented to Minister Michael Wood at Parliament on the 29th of June.
New Zealand business are also taking a stand; more than 100 businesses have signed an open letter in support of a Modern Slavery Act.
Modern Slavery Acts make it easier for consumers like you and me to expect slavery-free products and services from companies. They help prevent slavery through allowing us to see where things come from - and calling them out if they come from slavery. They require businesses to understand the risks of modern slavery in their purchasing, report on those risks and take action to address them. They give the business community guidance and a level playing field.
Every household in New Zealand spends on average $34 a week on goods associated with either forced labour or child labour – that’s only slightly less than we spend on electricity a week.
Right now, there is no requirement for businesses to do basic checks on their supply chains. This ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach means that it’s almost impossible for kiwis to have confidence that what we buy and use is slavery-free.
Learn more about the risky goods New Zealand imports.
1.48 million children work for us so that we can eat chocolate.
1 in 5 cotton products sold globally are tainted with forced labour and human rights violations.
40,000 children work in cobalt mines to make the cell phones we use everyday.
On average, in 2019, every adult in New Zealand drank three cups of coffee a week associated with child and forced labour.
No child should have to work instead of going to school. 13-year-old Elijah has been forced to cut coffee plants since he was just 7-years old. For kids like Elijah, the hours are long and the work is dangerous.
Elijah dreams of a brighter future, he hopes to become a teacher one day.
In 2019, New Zealand imported more than $45.5 million, or 700 million cups of coffee that was risky. The top four sources of risky coffee were Brazil (27.9%), Colombia (22.1%), Vietnam (20.9%) and Guatemala (9.9%).
Karan (12), India
He should’ve been at school, but instead, 12-year-old Karan* worked long, gruelling hours in a shoe factory with dangerous chemicals. “I liked going to school, and if I had a choice, I would rather go back to school and learn than work,” says Karan.
Depending on the amount of work, he would spend 8-9 hours every day in the factory. The factory had been set up in a residential home to keep it hidden from the authorities.
“My work usually involves sticking pieces of the shoe together with glue,” says Karan. “The glue has a very strong smell that makes me dizzy and sick when I use it for too long. I can’t focus on work sometimes because of this, and the manager gets angry and shouts at me when I make mistakes.”
*Name changed to protect identity.
Ima (11), Bangladesh
When Ima was 11, she spent her days working at the shrimp depot. She would desperately try to keep her fingers warm from all the ice by wrapping them in strips of cloth, which only mildly helped. She frequently cut her fingers on the part of the fish that's as sharp as a knife.
The shrimp processing factory stole Ima's dreams. All Ima could see before her was a lifetime squatting for hours in the dark, surrounded by the stench of shrimp.
"When I worked at the shrimp factory, I could not dream," she says. "I felt that I should not dream."
Ima lived in constant fear. She had watched as other girls were beaten when they made mistakes. She was terrified that she would be next.