A story from KnowTheChain, Responsible Recruitment of Migrant Workers
Why are Worker-Paid Recruitment Fees a Problem? Example: Food Sector
In Summer 2018, 18-year-old Yudha was recruited for a fishing job by a labor broker on Facebook. He was promised US$450 per month, plus bonuses on a two-year contract. Only after he left his village in Indonesia did he find out that his salary would be only US$300 and that he was required to pay a US$900 “security deposit” and a US$750 administration fee. Yudha said his passport was confiscated once aboard the vessel, and that shifts lasted for 18 hours a day: “There was no break, except for eating and only five minutes,” said Yudha … “Sometimes, if a tuna came off a hook and the captain was angry at the missed catch, the crew would not eat at all.” While Yudha, unlike many of his colleagues, did not pay with this life, his pay for ten months at sea amounted to only US$638.
The seafood industry relies on a range of workers, from fishers to aquaculture farmers to workers in processing facilities, many of whom are migrants. Responsible recruitment and remediation in cases of abuse, therefore, are essential, and much can be learned from Tesco’s approach.
Working with suppliers to conduct risk assessments of the recruitment process is critical to mitigating risks of debt bondage associated with recruitment fees, coercion, threats, and other forms of exploitation. Companies should also be prepared to incorporate the costs of meeting the Employer Pays Principle into their payments to suppliers.
When situations of abuse, such as wage or document withholding are uncovered, companies must ensure workers receive remediation. Companies should also continually engage with workers to ensure they are not retaliated against and are satisfied with the remedy outcomes.