Leadership Issue: Modern Day Slavery

Do you know, much more care about modern day slavery? Dan Viederman of Verite came up with an article at CNN regarding a 2-year study on labor conditions in electronics manufacturing in Malaysia.

Verite CEO Dan Viederman

Verite CEO Dan Viederman

But before we go any further, Verite by the way is a non-profit consulting organization that helps multinationals identify and solve supply chain and human rights problems. Working with various sectors to help improve working condtions and eliminate human rights violations, Viederman reported that..

…1 out of every 3 foreign workers in the electronics industry are into forced labor. And that’s no different than slavery. How did this happen?

One story goes like this, a Nepalese job applicant could not get work if he does not pay a $1,266 fee – an amount which was said to be double the average annual income in Nepal. But with no savings whatsoever, where does he get the money? He borrows from a moneylender with a 5% monthly interest while using his family land as collateral. Yet upon arrival in Malaysia, there were still additional fees and his salary was not what he
expected. And so the indebtedness, not to mention the poor working conditions.

To make things worse, his passport was also confiscated by his Malaysian employment manager. So now, he is like “locked up abroad” – at least until his contract expires. Hmm…

Now, solutions stated in Viederman’s article include not paying fees and access to identity documents among others.

slavery2Looking closely, it’s all about money here – as always. Thus, focus should be on recruitment, or the root of it all. Fees should never be ridiculous but legal. Employment contracts signed with the recruiter should be honored by the employer so as not to be deceived in pay, working conditions and employment duration.

Employers should never ask for additional fees instead even provide a ready quarters for their workers as part of their employment agreement.

Lastly, if multinationals have departments directly concerned with the environment and its conservation – then why not also have specialized people concerned with fair labor?

Big players are already earning billions. How about looking after “the geese that lays golden eggs”?

What’s your take?