- Start date: 9 January 2023
- End date: 31 December 2024
- Principal investigator: Professor Chee Yew Wong
- Co-investigators: Ying Zhang, Professor Jonathan Winterton
The overall aim of the project is to understand the journeys, experiences and processes through the labour supply chains by which a migrant worker is made to do forced labour.
The project aims to achieve the following:
- Review literature about forced labour from different disciplines to inform supply chain literature
- Understand the implications of Modern Slavery, supply chain transparency and human rights regulations and responses from the industry
- Map the journeys, experiences and processes which migrant workers go through to identify the mechanisms that increase their vulnerability to forced labour exploitation
- Develop a theory or theoretical framework to understand (forced) labour supply chains.
The project involves conducting a literature review, conducting interviews, hosting a seminar and workshop, and the formation of a university-industry research consortium to implement funded projects, PhD studies and impact activities.
Key findings from mapping recent Modern Slavery, supply chain transparency and human rights regulations:
- Most regulations are targeted at large multinationals
- There are new regulations that cover SMEs and the means to support them
- New regulations cover both direct and indirect suppliers
- There is an increased demand for a higher level of transparency
- There is an increased emphasis on integrating supply chain due diligence policy
- There are a variety of penalties for non-compliance.
Tentative findings from interviewing supply chain managers and human rights specialists regarding their views on recent supply chain transparency and human rights regulations:
- New regulations set a level playing field, making transparency, risk management and due diligence mandatory
- It is virtually impossible to fully map human rights risks at the entire upstream supply chain; the scopes and liability seem endless
- New regulations show governments are taking more responsibilities, but also passing on (hard to achieve) responsibilities to the industry
- The industry does not want to take responsibility in the policing of crimes (human rights violence)
- New regulations change voluntary behaviour to a focus on minimal compliance (to transparency and due diligence requirements), as opposed to actively eradicating forced labour practices in their supply chains.
Publications and outputs
- Modern slavery: how the UK government’s 2023 reforms made it harder for victims to prove they are being exploited, The Conversation, January 2024. (Reposted on the Research and Innovation Blog)
- An update on Modern Slavery trends in the UK: analyses of UK National Referral Mechanism (NRM) statistics, Research and Innovation Blog, January 2024
- Wong, C.Y., Zhang, Y. (2023). Forced labour in supply chains: a review of literature and regulations, Crossing Boundaries: The 2023 Business and Modern Slavery Research Conference, September 2023, Bath
- Implications of the latest Human Rights legislations relating to supply chains, Research and Innovation Blog, April 2023