- oD 50.50
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Forced labour in the global economy
There is a growing and sober awareness among international organisations and some advocacy groups that trafficking, slavery and forced labour are not anomalies perpetuated by a few ‘bad apple’ employers. Rather, severe labour exploitation is an endemic feature of the contemporary global economy. From slavery and trafficking in the production of shrimp in Thailand to artisanal cheese and clothing made by US prison labour, forced labour plays a significant role in commodity production, as well as care, domestic, and sex work. The need to address forced labour more systematically has been emphasised recently in the rise of calls to tackle ‘root causes’. Yet what actually are these root causes? How do they operate? Beyond the commonplace notion that ‘poverty’ renders workers vulnerable to abuse, or that this abuse constitutes ‘the underside of globalisation’, what do we actually know about the specific ways in which the structure of the global economy conditions both poverty and severe labour exploitation? Read on...