Over 21 Million Workers Still Trapped In Slavery — ILO

ILO DG Guy Ryder
ILO DG Guy Ryder

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Friday said that more than 21 million workers are still trapped in slavery and forced labour around the world .

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General said this in his message to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is celebrated annually on Dec. 2.

According to Ryder, the numbers are staggering as the 21 million include women, men and children, which generate 150 billion dollars in illicit profits for those who exploit them.

“Since its very beginning in 1919, the International Labour Organisation has been concerned about workers being subjected to forced labour.

“The fact that in today’s world there are still children, women and men in slave-like conditions, is an affront to all people and nations everywhere.

“Everyone needs to be aware of slavery and how to fight it. The right to be free of forced labour is both a fundamental labour right, as well as a human right, ‘’said.

He said that though 178 countries have ratified the Forced Labour Convention of 1930, while 175 countries have ratified the Abolition of forced labour Convention of 1957,   the scourge still exists.

Ryder said that  21 million women, men and children trapped in forced labour around the world, generated 150 billion dollars in illicit profits for those who exploit them.

“Forced labour takes many forms, including commercial sexual exploitation, debt bondage or traditional slavery, and is present in many sectors, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work or fishing.

“But there is hope. There is a widespread commitment to end forced labour as the ILO Forced Labour Protocol that was adopted in 2014 is now in to force.

“The Protocol’s provision on remedies and compensation is a powerful instrument, if used effectively, will provide justice to the many victims of forced labour.

“This will also make it less profitable to those tempted to use forced labour,’’ he said.

The ILO Director- General, however, said that experience showed that ending slavery and forced labour required a balanced and integrated approach.

He said this was why the fight against forced labour was closely linked to the combat against child labour, and discrimination and was in favour of freedom of association and collective bargaining.

According to him, this will mutually reinforce fundamental principles and rights at work and form part of an integrated approach to realising the goal of decent work for all.

The D-G noted that under the Target 8.7 of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), world leaders were committed to taking immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour.

Ryder said that they are also expected to end modern slavery and human trafficking as well as secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers.

He added that all forms of Child labour must end by 2025.

Ryder said that the ILO with its global membership – governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations was fully in support of the achievement of the ambitious target.

“I am confident that by 2030, we will be able to say we have defeated slavery.

“We look forward to Nov. 2017 when Argentina will host the Global Conference on Child Labour and Forced Labour, an important milestone on the road towards achieving SDGs Target 8.7.

“Everyone needs to be aware of slavery and know how to fight it. Find out more by supporting the 50 for Freedom campaign and Alliance 8.7 global partnership.’’

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