UnionAID

UnionAID co-signs open letter to NZ Govt. urging progress on Modern Slavery legislation

UnionAID has co-signed an open letter pressing the New Zealand government to progress the work done in 2023 around modern slavery legislation and enact it into law, to address the import of goods linked to forced and child labour.

The letter is now open to the public for signature, you can read the letter and sign here.

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Dear Prime Minister Luxon and Minister van Velden,

Right now, an estimated 50 million children, women and men around the world are trapped in modern slavery (1). These people grow the fibres and make the clothes we wear; grow, harvest and process the crops for the food we eat; and mine the minerals and make the electronics we use.

In 2022, New Zealand imported $7.9B of ‘risky goods’ associated with child and forced labour. This amounts to 10% of our country’s total imports. Every week, New Zealand households unknowingly spend an average of $77 on these ‘risky goods’ – more than they spend on electricity (2).

We urge your government to take action and make progress on this issue by introducing modern slavery legislation in New Zealand.

Why is this important?

The decision to delay modern slavery legislation affects everyone, from the beginning of the supply chain to the end consumer. Urgent action is needed.

In July 2023, the Labour government announced its plan to draft a modern slavery disclosure law, requiring companies earning more than $20 million a year in revenue to publicly disclose and address the risks of modern slavery within their supply chains.

Detailed advice, including advocating for due diligence, was received from advocacy groups and experts in modern slavery legislation. Significant progress was made on drafting legislation, covering both business and public sector supply chains. But, despite repeated urging from the public, it was not introduced into Parliament before the last election.

Now it is your turn. We are depending on your government to do the right thing, to introduce this legislation into Parliament and make it law. But we have since been told that your government has “yet to make a decision” on this proposal (3).

Not only does this lag put New Zealand behind other OECD countries, but it affects businesses that are trying to do the right thing as they continue operating in a market where unfair competition can thrive due to unethical labour practices.

New Zealanders want legislative action on modern slavery. An open letter from the business community was written in 2021 along with a 37,000-strong public petition. In 2023, more than 6,000 people demanded that the then government stop delaying progress. In February this year, ethical investors urged you to act.

There is no need for any more hold-ups. We ask once again that your National-led coalition government make urgent progress on this issue.

We pride ourselves on being a country that cares, a place where everyone gets a fair go. By stalling work on a modern slavery law, aren’t we falling short of that ideal?

Prime Minister Luxon, in 2022 you said, “Something I feel very passionate about is modern slavery… I’ve been really passionate about [it] for a long time. That’s something I think we could do a better job of and have modern slavery legislation, and make sure that we’re holding ourselves up to a standard.” (4).

We are holding you to your own standards.
Please Introduce a Modern Slavery Act into New Zealand Law Now!

Yours sincerely,
Fair&Good Ethical Directory

With the support of:
Hagar NZ, Tearfund, World Vision, Trade Aid, Fairtrade, Sustainable Business Network, Ethically Kate, Mindful Money, Walk Free, The Wilberforce Foundation, Mindful Fashion, Kowtow, 27 Seconds, All Good, AS Colour, Addington Café, Aho Creative, Bennetto, Borneo Bags, Burrow&Be, Caritas, The Centre for Research on Modern Slavery (UoA), Collective Canvas, Common Good Coffee, Common Sense Organics, Conscious Copy, Crave Café, Direct Impact Group, NZ Ethical Employers, Ethos&Co, Fairfield Trust, Fairplay, Fashion Revolution, Grow Good, Good Gold, Hamodava Coffee, HEED Consulting, Holi Boli, House of March, The Human Trafficking Research Coalition, IncaFe Organic Coffee, Joyya, Just Kai, Karma Drinks, Kind Café, Krama&Co, The Lucy Foundation, Made Good, The Modern Day Slavery and Labour Exploitation Advocacy Group, Morning Cider, Pickers Pocket, Phat Philly, Reca, Recreate Clothing, Regina Scheyvens, Professor of International Development, ReMade Agency, Sawubona, Seeds, Side Hustle, The Salvation Army, UnionAID, Yeastie Boys, Ziwi Baby

References:

(1) Walk Free Global Slavery Index 2023
https://www.walkfree.org/global-slavery-index/
(2) World Vision Risky Goods Supply Chain Risk Report 2023 https://wvnzintegrationprod.blob.core.windows.net/pdf/WVNZ%20Risky%20Goods%202023%20Report-Final.pdf
(3) Newsroom 18/1/2024
https://newsroom.co.nz/2024/01/18/modern-slavery-law-plans-up-in-air/
(4) Video Interview with Guyon Espiner, 7 June 2022
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/468615/how-christopher-luxon-is-rebranding-the-national-party

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