IGOHR Call on World Governments to Ratify the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labour on International Worker’s Day
The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights (IGOHR) joins the international community to celebrate the International Worker’s Day also known as Labour’s Day this 1st May 2017. On this day, IGOHR is calling on the all governments around the world – especially those in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – to ratify the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor as well as to enact and implement policies that will protect their citizens or migrant workers from modern slavery.
Although the celebration of this day originated in the United States of America, it has gained universal recognition by many nations around the world and as such it is regarded as an international day. May 1st was actually chosen to commemorate the 4th May 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago in which the US Labour Movement clashed with police officers while they advocated for eight hours of work per day. Four members of the eight-hour movement lost their lives during the incident.
Prior to that, workers usually worked for 12-16 hours a day under severe and unsafe conditions. Thus, after the clash the government’s labor federation at the time passed a resolution that constituted eight-hours as a legal day’s work. Hence, the International Workers Day or Labour Day is celebrated not only to highlight the social and economic achievements of workers globally but also to acknowledge the contributions workers have made to make the world robust and prosperous.
With its interest in the respect of labor rights of all, IGOHR emphasizes that there is still much to be done to guarantee for eight-hours of work for all workers and laborers worldwide especially in countries in the Middle East and North Africa. According to statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO), over 21 million men, women and children are living in modern slavery. Many international companies and organizations are exploiting these individuals, subjecting them to forced labor and getting huge profits out of it. Approximately more than US$ 150 million is estimated as profits illegally derived from the business of modern-day slavery.
Victims of modern slavery usually work under very harsh conditions. They work in sectors such as agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, mining, utilities and domestic work. They still work for long hours 12-16 hours per day, forced labor, bonded labor, in some cases their passports are confiscated and sexual exploitation which is accounts for most cases in modern slavery.
Although several countries – including those of the GCC – have ratified the 1930 Convention on Forced Labour, IGOHR believes that signing the Additional Protocol is imperative because it complements the Convention by adding new elements, such as addressing the root causes of slavery so that it can be eliminated permanently. It also provides requirements for employers to exercise “due diligence” and to avoid modern slavery in their business practices or supply chains. It equally grants governments the authority to crack down on labor rights abuses and fraudulent practices by job recruiters and employment agencies. Many of such employment agencies in the GCC are exploiting foreign workers – especially domestic workers – andA depriving them of their basic rights.
The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights therefore calls on all governments to sign the Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention and enact legislations that will prevent their citizens from being trapped in modern slavery. They should equally implement these policies and strictly monitor as well as sanctions businesses and companies within their territories who violates the rights of employees. Individuals too can help in combating modern slavery by signing up to support the 50 for Freedom campaign and asking their government representatives to ratify the Protocol on Forced Labour.