The QUT Centre for Justice, in collaboration with the Centre for Decent Work and Industry, have released a Briefing Paper Series on Modern Slavery and Exploitative Work.
The series was initiated by the Modern Slavery Research Group, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers seeking to improve knowledge and understanding of the issue of modern slavery and labour exploitation to combat this grave and complex global problem.
Each of the Briefing Papers is available online as a PDF file:
Improving mobilization of anti-slavery activism through Facebook communication
Judith Newton and Erin O’Brien discuss how anti-slavery organisations utilise social media, particularly Facebook, to raise awareness of the problem of modern slavery and build support for efforts to combat this persistent human rights abuse. The research identifies three significant factors that serve as obstacles to Facebook users increasing their active participation in the modern slavery cause, and they make recommendations for small changes to social media strategy that move beyond awareness-raising and instead provide explicit calls to action that generate real impact.Improving mobilization of anti-slavery activism through Facebook communication, Judith Newton and Erin O’Brien – Issue 31, November 2022
Modern Slavery Disclosure Proactices: Risks induced by COVID-19 in business operations and supply chains
Shakoor Ahmed and Ellie Chapple review the inaugural round of Australia’s Modern Slavery Reporting Register in December 2020, which coincided with the COVID-19 global pandemic. This research focused on how companies responded during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the key aim to recommend improvement to future reporting. Using content analysis to examine the first modern slavery statements submitted under Australian legislation, the research finds more than half of the modern slavery statements did not disclose COVID-19 issues related to modern slavery risk. This research advises how companies can improve their future resilience and reduce modern slavery risks related in modern slavery reporting.Modern Slavery Disclosure Practices: Risks induced by COVID-19 in business operations and supply chains, Shakoor Ahmed and Ellie Chapple – Issue 32, December 2022
Strengthening the resistance of Global South women apparel workers’ through empowering their collective voice
Exercising employee voice is fundamental to developing workers’ self-organising capacity and realising their work rights. However, the voice of women apparel workers engaged in lesser-paid factory work is suppressed to ensure uninterrupted production in Global South sweatshops. This briefing paper, written by Gayani Samarakoon, Deanna Grant-Smith, Robyn Mayes and Dinuka Wijetunga, explores how women apparel workers in Sri Lanka individually and collectively express resistance to unfair labour practices amid myriad voice suppression mechanisms. Based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with these women, the paper explores how they, despite being restricted to lower hierarchical positions on the apparel production floor, are not objects of suppression and subjugation. On the contrary, they resist exploitation in many informal ways, pointing to the need for a strong collective voice to productively have their say.Strengthening the resistance of Global South women apparel workers’ through empowering their collective voice, Gayani Samarakoon, Deanna Grant-Smith, Robyn Mayes and Dinuka Wijetunga – Issue 33, November 2022
Evading responsibility: Living Wage Methodologies and Initiatives in the Fashion Industry
Justine Coneybeer and Rowena Maguire examine how garment workers in the Global South work full-time, yet they struggle to feed and house their families, send their children to school or save for their future needs. Many of these workers produce clothing for wealthy fashion companies in the Global North. Consequently, industry stakeholders have established multiple initiatives to mobilise fashion brands and retailers to act and resolve this wage issue. This Briefing Paper draws from Coneybeer and Maguire’s (2022) recent publication Evading responsibility: a structural critique of living wage initiatives and methodologies in the open access International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, and provides a summary analysis of living wage methodologies and initiatives popular in the garment industry. The paper critically assesses why progress on poverty wages has been limited and finds that leading fashion brands can evade responsibility through membership with weak living wage initiatives. The paper concludes that fashion brands must take accountability by accounting for a living wage in their purchase orders.Evading responsibility: Living Wage Methodologies and Initiatives in the Fashion Industry, Justine Coneybeer and Rowena Maguire – Issue 34, December 2022