Dáil to debate Labour bill to stamp out labour exploitation and human trafficking in the supply chain

24 September 2023

The Dáil will debate a Labour Party Bill which would introduce robust transparent reporting by firms about the risk of labour exploitation and human trafficking in their supply chains, next Thursday, 28th September.

The Labour Exploitation and Trafficking (Audit of Supply Chains) Bill 2021 would require businesses to report annually on the measures they have taken to ensure that production of the goods or services they sell does not involve such exploitative practices.

Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate, Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash said:

“Safeguarding and protecting human rights should be at the absolute forefront of every companies operations, yet we know that many firms are failing to take proper responsibility for the practices in their supply chain.

“Labour wants to tackle this, which is why we are introducing a Bill next Thursday in the Dáil to implement a register for all businesses to step up and prove their bona fides when it comes to tackling exploitation in their supply chain.

“For too long, companies have shirked their responsibilities to workers in their supply chain. We’re all too familiar with the horrendous practices in the factories that manufacture for the likes of Apple, Nike and H&M.

“Workers in these sweatshops often pay poverty wages, their workers are expected to work in terrible conditions with long hours and poor health and safety practices, and we know that child labour is still rife in across many factories globally.

“Ireland can’t just sit on its hands and pretend it’s not going on. We need to step up to big corporates and demand change.

“The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future (2020) made a commitment to ‘ensure that the Action Plan is further developed to review whether there is a need for greater emphasis on mandatory due diligence’. Yet no progress has been made.

“There is currently no overarching legal or regulatory regime to make human rights due diligence and reporting mandatory for businesses in Ireland. It’s beyond time that companies were compelled to show how they are protecting the workers in their organisations.

“Increasingly, consumers are making decisions based on sustainability and fairness in the supply chain. Consumers have a right, and a desire, to know how products and services they use are made. According to a June 2021 IPSOS/MRBI opinion poll conducted for the Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights, 81% of Irish people would want an Irish company that is acting unethically in a low-income country to be subject to legally binding regulations in Ireland.

“Consumer pressure can only go so far. We need to implement robust reporting regimes to stamp out these practices and eradicate them across the supply chain.

“If enacted, this Bill would require companies to publish a statement on its business structure and supply chains, its policies in relation to labour exploitation and trafficking, and its due diligence processes in relation to labour exploitation and trafficking in the supply chain.

“Of course, this is not a silver bullet solution, but as we all become increasingly aware of sustainability challenges, we need carrots and sticks to keep big business in check and end the exploitation of vulnerable workers.”

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