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Oh, God. Another "modern slavery" story. Yes it is. Read it.

Nigel Morris-Co...

There are things that biased media push down our throats as they pretend independence but run a subversive agenda, from politics to social change. But there are some things that transcend the self-interest of media outlets, where the generally left-leaning press and politicians have got it absolutely right.

The ILO describes "modern-day slavery" as "child labour, forced marriage and human trafficking among others." The ILO also defines forced labour but in doing so it cross refers to its own definitions, in an infuriatingly circular self-corroboratory fashion. This is what it says at one point "forced labour is all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily." That kind of convoluted language is straight out of the socialist workers' playbook, again undermining the importance of the ILO by setting it up as a "lefty" organisation.

So, having established why it's difficult to get behind all the buzzwords and trendy language, let's see why we, by which I mean you and I, should make the effort.

First, the ILO is not a "lefty" organisation despite the language it uses. It aims to provide fair and honest working conditions for all while protecting employers from excessive demands and disruption. For sure, it is left of where the centre used to be but as the centre has drifted steadily left over the past fifty or so years, it no longer seems far away. That is not a criticism: issues such as health and safety and equality within the workforce should not be considered "lefty" at all: they are good, sensible, working practices.

Secondly, if we look first at forced labour, this is not slavery in the old sense because the worker is not a chattel. However, he may not be free in the sense that he may not be able to leave that job. Forced labour comes in many forms. In many countries, legal foreign workers find that they are tied to a particular employer and that to run away from an abusive employer is a crime. There are many examples of violence and, even murder by employers and of suicide by employees driven to distraction. There are many examples of e.g. domestic servants who have run away and sought sanctuary in the embassy of their country. In most of those cases, they cannot produce their passports because their employers have taken them away. Construction workers are often in a similar position. It has to be realised that these are not people that have been kidnapped and transported nor even made their own, illegal, way into a country. These are fully documented workers with approved employment and work permits who willingly and freely entered into a commercial arrangement.

It has been reported that the government of North Korea has had a practice of sending citizens overseas to work. All or the vast majority of their salaries are paid to the North Korean government and in return they get food and board and their families get an allowance. In Indonesia, there are persistent reports about people being forced to work in miserable conditions for low pay in palm plantations. It is ironic that much of the information about and criticism of Indonesia comes from the USA. Prison labour in the USA is often compulsory. In 2018, prisoners went public with a demand for their pay to be increased from USD1 per hour to the minimum wage, currently USD7.25 per hour but states are free to set their own higher limits - California, for example, sets USD12 per hour. There are, approximately, 115,000 prisoners in California, says the Public Policy Institute of California. Many US prisons are run by for-profit corporations and they earn revenue from the work of prisoners. "Major brands to use prison labour include IBM, department store J.C. Penney and lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret," said Reuters in April this year.

But it is the areas of child labour that the most concern should be felt. Ironically, attempts to prevent child labour have backfired in developed countries with family businesses. Children working with (not entirely for) their parents is a way of bonding and learning and of gaining responsibility and discipline at a young age. In many small businesses, like restaurants, it is also pretty much the only way they get to spend time together. Opinions are starkly divided. Some say that no child should work in a family business but the contrary view is that laws that prevent, or tend to prevent, children from working in a family business breaches the constitutional rights of parents to teach their children the family business. A case in Connecticut challenges that state's Department of Labor (sic). The law in the state includes an outright ban on children working anywhere, including family businesses, under the age of 14. Under 16s can work in a range of jobs - including delivering newspapers. But the law also says "No minor under 16 … shall be employed or permitted to work in any manufacturing, mercantile or theatrical industry, restaurant or public dining room …” And even though a 15 year old can work as a farmhand, he can't operate machinery including driving a tractor.

Under the Palermo Protocol, “trafficking in persons” is defined as:“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

---------------- Charities providing direct aid ----------------

Preda Foundation, Manila - rescuing victims of forced child prostitution https://www.preda.org (Father Shay Cullen)

Snehalaya, Maharashtra , India - rescuing at risk children of sex workers and others https://www.snehalaya.org/reha...

Restored Hope Ministries, Dallas, USA - rescuing female prostitutes, trafficked women and their children from all over the USA. http://www.restoredhopeministr...