The Solidarity Center is using its expertise in securing and protecting worker rights to attack the nightmare of human trafficking head-on — working with unions, businesses, and communities to open migrant workers’ eyes to trafficking traps, encourage them to speak up about their experiences, and help push for better migration policies.
|Each year, International Migrants Day is commemorated on December 18. Download this Solidarity Center poster.
In today’s global economy, poverty and unemployment drive men, women, and children to leave their homes in search of work and a better life. More and more workers are on the move—from country to city and from poorer to richer nations all over the world. The International Labor Organization estimates the migrant worker population at 120 million.
Migration and trafficking are points along a labor spectrum. The same factors that push workers to migrate also leave them vulnerable to exploitation. The most egregious worker rights abuse is trafficking — using fraud or coercion to recruit, transport, buy, and sell human beings into a life of sweatshop labor, domestic servitude, or prostitution. At any given time, says the ILO, more than 12 million men, women, and children worldwide are deceived or coerced into forced and bonded labor, involuntary servitude, and sexual slavery. The U.S. Department of State estimates that in 2003, nearly a million persons fell victim to this modern-day form of slavery.
|Photo courtesy of International Organization for Migration
In May 2007 the ITUC established a first-of-its-kind Global Trade Union Alliance against Forced Labor and Trafficking, with support from the ILO Special Action Program to Combat Forced Labor. In January 2008, the ITUC and the European Trade Union Confederation hailed the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder said that as part of the Global Trade Union Alliance initiative, the ITUC is encouraging its member organizations in Europe to push their governments to ratify the Convention and to make sure it is fully enforced. "The criminal gangs and the recruiters who organize this trade in human beings must be stopped and punished," said Ryder, "and the factors which make people vulnerable to this exploitation must be dealt with."
Since its founding, the Solidarity Center has worked around the world to eliminate all forms of worker exploitation and to build support for worker rights. Our partnerships with workers, trade unions, governments, and civil society coalitions uniquely position us to create community and workplace-based safe migration and counter-trafficking strategies that emphasize prevention, prosecution, and protection.
|Solidarity Center Counter-Trafficking Strategies
- Educating intending migrant workers about labor laws and workplace rights in their own and foreign countries
- Helping to draft and pass improved anti-trafficking and safe migration legislation
- Training teachers to run school-based awareness programs
- Promoting union-run legal aid, counseling, and information centers
- Researching local, regional, and national trafficking trends and demographics
- Supporting common counter-trafficking initiatives between stakeholders
in sending and receiving countries
- Creating standardized reporting forms for use in police stations
Migrant Workers Vulnerable, Exploited Across the Globe
. December 18, 2013—Yani is one of 400,000 workers from the Indonesian archipelago who leave their homes every year in search of jobs to support themselves and their families. Many, like Yani, also are exploited by unscrupulous labor agents.
Panel to Congress: Hold Companies Responsible for Forced Labor
. August 12, 2013—A panel of Human Trafficking experts on Capitol Hill said the lack of corporate or governmental oversight of supply chains, especially subcontractors, is a major problem allowing trafficking for forced labor to grow on a global scale.
Human Trafficking Thrives under Worker Exploitation.
November 28, 2012—The most effective way to address human trafficking, 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.
Take Part in World Day for Decent Work Oct. 7.
October 5, 2012—Being employed in “decent work” sounds basic. But for millions of people around the world, it is not a reality.
U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Address Human Trafficking.
September 26, 2012—In the Congo, Marie Godet Niyonyota was kidnapped by rebels and turned into a slave.
Nicaragua the Third Nation to Adopt Domestic Work Standard.
October 18, 2012—Nicaragua this week became the third country to ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention on domestic workers.
Global Activists Gather Against Child Labor in Agriculture.
July 27, 2012—Globally, more than 129 million children are agriculture workers, the majority of them unpaid and involved in hazardous and age-inappropriate jobs, according to the International Labor Organization.
21 Million People Worldwide Are in Forced Labor: ILO Report.
June 4, 2012—Around the world, approximately 20.9 million women, men, and children are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave, according to a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Democracy Activist Aung San Suu Kyi Meets with Burmese Migrant Workers and Solidarity Center Partner Organizations in Thailand.
June 1, 2012—In her first visit outside her home country since 1988, Burmese democracy activist and member of parliament Aung San Suu Kyi visited migrant worker communities in Samut Sakhon Province, where 300,000 of Thailand’s estimated 2.5 million Burmese migrant workers live and work.
Burmese Migrant Workers Double Their Wages after Strike.
May 23, 2012—More than 500 migrant workers on the Thai-Burmese border took collective action to demand that their employer improve wages and working conditions in a garment factory where they were earning less than 25 cents per hour for an 11-hour shift, according to reports.
Kuwait and Bahrain Unions Become First in the Gulf to Forge an Official Trade Union Relationship with Nepal.
January 20, 2012—Gulf States are relying on as many as 15 million migrant workers from Asia to grow their economies.
After Floods Recede, Thai Unions Rally around Migrant Workers.
December 15, 2011—With support from the Solidarity Center, Thai unions are assisting thousands of migrant workers who are grappling with the aftermath of the historic October 2011 floods that killed 700, and left hundreds of thousands of workers jobless.
Leading U.S. Anti-Slavery Organizations Respond to 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report.
June 30, 2011–The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), of which the Solidarity Center is a member, welcomes the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report.
Promoting Democracy in the Arab Region Is Also about Defending Migrants.
April 1, 2011—From Libya to Bahrain, migrant workers have been caught hostage in the whirlwind of the popular uprisings in the Arab world.
"Never Work Alone" Says New Report on Forced Labor.
March 16, 2011—Extreme exploitation of migrant workers is a dire trend throughout Europe.
International Migrants Day 2010.
December 17, 2010—December 18, 2010, marks the 20th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Solidarity Center CPD Commends Human Trafficking Editorial, Clarifies Definition.
Solidarity Center Country Program Director/Thailand Rudy Porter points out that forced and bonded labor exists "not only for commercial sexual exploitation, but also in the factories, plantations, boats and homes where traffickers have forced foreign and Thai workers into slave-like conditions."
Post-Earthquake Support for Exploited Haitian Migrant Workers.
February 10. 2010—While addressing the February 3, 2010, President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons announced that the Solidarity Center would be playing an important role in helping Haitian migrant workers avert exploitative conditions in the wake of the recent earthquake.
Kuwaiti Unions Advocate for Migrant Worker Rights.
July 16, 2009—
During the 10 years Muhnadiramla Athula was a housemaid for a family in Kuwait, far from her native South Asian village, she never received a dinar for her labor.
Human Trafficking Report Applauds Solidarity Center Partners as Anti-Slavery Heroes
. July 7, 2008—The U.S. Department of State’s 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report
highlights the work of two longtime Solidarity Center partners: Sompong Sakaew, founder of the Labor Rights Promotion Network (LPN) in Thailand, and Marietta Dias, who created the Migrant Workers Protection Society.
Survey Finds Human Trafficking, Debt Bondage Common in Dominican Republic.
March 4, 2009—Haitian migrants who cross the border into the Dominican Republic for jobs in the construction industry are among the country’s most exploited workers, and many feel that union membership is the key path to decent work, according to a new survey developed by workers for workers with Solidarity Center support.
Hotel and Tourism Workers Help Fight Human Trafficking in Kenya
. December 18, 2008—In the coastal city of Mombasa, where tourism is the main industry, the Solidarity Center trained shop stewards from a hotel and service workers union about the danger signs of human trafficking.
Migrant Worker Associations Provide Safety Net for Sri Lankans
. Ten years ago, Solidarity Center union partners in Sri Lanka began a process to organize migrant workers and integrate them into a comprehensive economic and social safety net before, during, and after migration.
Migrant Workers Under Attack in Russia
. December 18, 2008—In December 2006, Moscow police investigated the shocking murder of a 20-year-old Tajik migrant worker, whose severed head was found in a dumpster four days after he and a co-worker were stabbed on the way home from their jobs at a suburban food warehouse.
Solidarity Center Partner Co-Sponsors Bike Rally Against Trafficking in Thailand
. The Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN), supported by the Solidarity Center, and other human and worker rights groups, held a three-day bicycle rally in Thailand to raise awareness of the fight against child labor and human trafficking.
Hope for Migrant Workers in Gulf States
. June 4, 2008—The Solidarity Center is part of an effort that brings together union, employer, and government representatives to improve working conditions for migrants in the Gulf States.
Dominican Republic Workers Establish a Network to Prevent Trafficking for Labor Exploitation
. March 7, 2007—
The Solidarity Center launched a program aimed at raising Dominican workers' awareness of trafficking and the laws that exist to prevent it.
Global Labor Movement Endorses Migrant Worker Rights Action Plan
. December 12, 2006—In December 2006, about 60 trade unionists and representatives of international organizations met in Brussels to lay the groundwork for a concrete action plan to organize migrants, defend and promote their rights, and improve their working conditions.
Media and Popular Culture Spread Anti-Trafficking Message in Indonesia
. With support from the Solidarity Center and its longtime partner the International Catholic Migration Commission, the Farmers Voice Radio Network hosted a three-day Anti-Trafficking Jamboree in Subang, West Java.
Legal Clinic for Burmese Migrant Workers
. The Solidarity Center and the Thai bar association have opened a legal clinic to help protect the rights of some of the hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrant workers in factories along the Thailand-Burma border.
Changing the Human Trafficking Law in Sri Lanka
. In 2006, The Solidarity Center training Sri Lankan government officials and police officers to implement new anti-trafficking provisions in the national Penal Code.
Empowering Workers and Their Children to Fight Human Trafficking in Indonesia
. More than 25,000 Boy and Girl Scouts are learning how to stay safe in a part of Indonesia that is infamous for the cruel practice of human trafficking.
Solidarity Center Publications
Visit These Sites
- NO to Trafficking, a joint Solidarity Center-USAID-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines website aimed at combating trafficking of women and children in the Philippines.
- Global Workers Justice Alliance, which promotes transnational access to justice through a cross-border network of worker advocates and resources.
- HumanTrafficking.org, a website aimed at combating human trafficking in East Asia and the Pacific.
- Free2Work.org, a joint project of the Not For Sale Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum that rates products and companies based on their policies related to forced and child labor.