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Human Trafficking Thrives Under Worker Exploitation

Photo: Thomas Swain

This is an excerpt of the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center's Human Trafficking Thrives Under Worker Exploitation

Human trafficking thrives in an environment of worker exploitation and  engenders forced labor, debt bondage and other egregious labor abuse. The most effective way to address this scourge, says Neha Misra, Solidarity Center senior specialist on migration and human trafficking, is by empowering workers to have a voice in their workplace and supporting their right to organize and join unions.  

Misra testified in the U.S. House today during a hearing on Global Trends in Trafficking and Forced Labor held by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The hearing examined issues related to human trafficking and forced labor, including recruitment agencies, business transparency, employment-based visa trafficking and supply chain monitoring.

“Immigrant workers are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking,” said Misra. “Unsafe migration processes and the lack of labor and other legal protections for immigrant workers make them an easy target for traffickers in the form of unscrupulous labor recruiters and employers.” 

The creation of so-called guestworker programs and the rise of “labor recruiters” has exacerbated the problems inherent in labor migration. Temporary labor migration or “guestworker” schemes, increasingly promoted by governments to fill demand for cheap labor, “create a legalized system and structure for employers to exploit workers and increase workers’ vulnerability to human trafficking and other forms of severe labor exploitation, including forced labor,” said Misra.  Further, although there are many ethical labor recruiters, too many “charge exorbitant fees for their services, forcing workers into debt bondage, falsify documents and deceive workers about their terms and conditions of work increasing vulnerability to human trafficking.” 

Read the rest of Human Trafficking Thrives under Worker Exploitation

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