Australia: ‘Grave violations of human rights’: Supermarkets, retailers uncover exposure to modern slavery

Australia’s leading supermarkets, retail stores and mining companies have uncovered hundreds of cases of modern slavery throughout supply chains, severing ties with third-party contractors, negotiating pay increases and forcing the return of confiscated passports to migrant workers.

Woolworths Group has uncovered several instances of forced labour in its audits while Wesfarmers has acted on hundreds of critical breaches, including allegations of excessive overtime, unauthorised subcontracting and bribery.

The federal government’s mandatory reporting system has forced the nation’s biggest companies to investigate a range of serious exploitative practices such as human trafficking, slavery, forced labour and debt bondage in Australia and overseas.

It will on Wednesday build on laws that require companies with turnover of at least $100 million to report on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and the steps taken in response, with a new five-year action plan involving government, communities, unions and business to further crack down on worker exploitation.

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