A Trade Aid supported initiative has received the support of more than 80 New Zealand companies who have signed a joint letter to the government.
The letter urges an inquiry into whether New Zealand needs a Modern Slavery Act. The open letter is being presented to Minister Wood in Wellington on 16 March, and is a joint initiative by Trade Aid, World Vision and Walk Free.
40 million people globally are currently in modern slavery. The world is small and interconnected. Every time we purchase a product there is a chain reaction felt around the world. At risk goods are entering the New Zealand market and New Zealand businesses are seeking support for a level playing field where safe and healthy conditions for producers are the benchmark.
No country or industry supply chains are unaffected. Two-thirds of all people in modern slavery live in Asia Pacific – the region New Zealand trades with extensively. Currently, New Zealand does not know the level of modern slavery within New Zealand.
Unlike many other countries, New Zealand has no accountability legislation that addresses transparency in supply chains. This means that New Zealand companies could unknowingly be importing products or services by which people are exploited and enslaved.
New Zealand companies want that to change. They say countries that prioritise ethics and sustainability – must show leadership and reject supply chains that include modern slavery. This call has New Zealand joining numerous other countries such as the U.K, Australia and Europe who have already enacted, or are in the process of drafting supply chain legislation.
New Zealand consumers want to buy ethical products and Modern Slavery Acts make it easier for consumers to expect slavery-free products and services. They help prevent slavery through transparency and accountability. They require businesses to understand the modern slavery risks in their purchasing, report on those risks, and take action to address them. They give the business community guidance and a level playing field.
Modern slavery goes against our kiwi values. New Zealand’s identity as a nation is built on kindness, fairness, equality, and sustainability.
“Our coffee passes through many hands before it reaches us so transparency between us and the producers in coffee-growing countries worldwide is important to us,” says Paul Cockburn, Head of L’affare, who partner with Trade Aid in the sourcing of their coffee. “The values of the L’affare brand (and the people behind L’affare) align with those of many New Zealand coffee businesses, in support of values-based business and in support of the meaningful measures this open letter speaks to.”
This open letter demonstrates a growing impetus from the business community for the government to make good on its international commitment to investigate a Modern Slavery Act for New Zealand.
The Open Letter is supported by Trade Aid, Walk Free and World Vision, who are joining New Zealand businesses in calling on the government to reflect New Zealand’s values by progressing action towards a Modern Slavery Act.