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World – Staffing agencies play a role in alleviating human trafficking

13 January 2012

The International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies (Ciett), has called on governments, trade unions and all responsible organisations to come together to ensure appropriate regulation is in place to eliminate human trafficking.

Fred van Haasteren, Ciett President, commented "as the global voice of the private employment services industry, Ciett firmly believes that all individuals have the right to work in a safe and dignified way without fear of exploitation. All Ciett members adhere to a Code of Conduct and are firmly committed to providing decent work. Our industry is grounded in people. It is vital that we protect them and their working conditions. We believe no human being should be treated as a commodity."

More than 27 million victims of human trafficking are identified every year, and according to UN.GIFT, the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, some 161 countries are affected by human trafficking activities by being a source, transit or destination for victims.

The private employment services industry has potential to play a vital role in abolishing 21st century slavery. Through connecting individuals with employment, representing the needs of both the worker and the user organisation, private employment services are in a unique position to help ensure individuals are free from exploitation in the workplace. A recent report by Ciett and the Boston Consulting Group, Adapting to Change, found that, when appropriately regulated, the industry plays a key role in driving down illegal practices like human trafficking; countries in which there is a higher penetration of agency work have lower levels of illegal economic activity.

However, despite this potential, barriers remain that inhibit the industry’s ability to combat human trafficking. Inappropriate and inconsistent levels of regulation can prevent private employment services from protecting their workers to the best of their ability. There is a need for all countries to have in place an appropriate regulatory framework for agency such as that described in ILO Convention 181 on private employment agencies.
 
"Our members are committed to fighting the injustice of human trafficking," continues van Haasteren. Ciett's corporate members signed a memorandum of understanding with Uni Global Union in 2008, which is committed to cooperation with the International Labour Organisation, International Organisation of Migration and other organisations to promote international instruments and actions to eliminate human trafficking (e.g. promotion of ratification and effective implementation of relevant ILO Conventions on forced labour and migration, Athens Ethical Principles, UN.GIFT).

Van Haasteren concluded "we now call for governments and organisations to work hand in hand to fight the abuses and illegal practices arising from a minority of rogue, unethical organisations and individuals. We need to implement regulation that guarantees that all businesses, all over the world join us in our fight to eliminate social injustices such as human trafficking, to ensure that in the future there is no need for a day to raise awareness of this crime."

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