It doesn’t sound good, and it’s not. While slavery might cast your mind back to the history books, there is a very real and ever-present version of slavery that affects 45 million people in 167 countries today*.  

* Source: 

Modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power. 

This includes everything from human trafficking and forced labour to unfair practices within supply chains of many of the items that we use or consume every day such as chocolate, cotton, electronics, footwear and coffee. The lack of transparency and scale of the problem makes it very difficult for your average consumer to avoid their role in it all. A company could easily be enabling some form of modern slavery without even realising it.  

There is currently legislation in Australia, and legislation being considered in New Zealand, which compels large organisations to look for slavery in their supply chains and respond when it is found. But the approaches to this complicated problem are still being developed and there is much more that needs to be done. 

With Fairtrade’s work spanning more than 30 years, we continue to fight poverty, discrimination, exploitation, a lack of transparency and power imbalances – the root causes of modern slavery. Here’s how you can help: 

  • For consumers: look for the Fairtrade Mark. This means that a farmer or a worker, as well as all operators in the supply chain, adhere to the Fairtrade Standards, a process that ensures transparency throughout the supply chain and is externally audited. The Mark also means farmers have received a fairer price, thanks to the Fairtrade Minimum Price, and access to the Fairtrade Premium, a fixed additional amount of money that farmers and workers invest in improving the quality of their businesses and communities. The Premium is empowerment.  
  • For businesses: we offer unique insights and capability to help businesses improve their supply chains and work to counter modern slavery. Our system is built on rigorous standards that are transparent, publicly available and apply to all operators in the supply chain.  
  • For producers: we support producer communities to establish a youth-inclusive, community-based monitoring and remediation system.We also connect companies with producers, to invest back into the community and tackle forced labour issues. 
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