Download SourceWorx’s Modern Slavery Statement here:

It’s no secret that manufacturing in lower cost developing countries come with its own set of risks. One of the key things which we all need to look out for is the need to ensure that our supply chains are constantly reviewed and tested against a range of potential risk from unethical behaviour.

This blog discusses risks and some of the measure which we all need to be aware of and be prepared to action. The following measures are not exhaustive as we do not have the expertise in this field.

Both Modern Slavery and Child Labour are complex topics of themselves and very often, the kind of remedies involve whole-of-government, societal and holistic approaches. We cannot solve this problem on our own but what we must do is not to create a demand of it through careful procurement.

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery is a severe form of exploitation of individuals for the purpose of personal or commercial gain and is prohibited under Article 4 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is estimated that there are over 40 million people currently enslaved around the world. Slavery is not always as obvious as shackles and chains (although this does occur). It can be hidden from view where vulnerable people are being exploited through coercion, deception and threats.

Child Labour

Work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development may be regarded as ‘Child Labour’. It is usually work which is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Modern Slavery: What do we look for?

The following are what we train our staff to look for. While there are some ‘red flags’, it does not mean that people are necessarily being exploited but would generally warrant further investigation and oversight.

a. Factories which employ a disproportionally high number of casual or unskilled labourers with high turnover. Workers employed are largely unskilled.

b. High proportion of migrant workers working in the factory. Migrant workers are more vulnerable because they may lack knowledge about local worker rights, have little to no social networks for support / where to go for help or even experience a language barrier (countries like China have several hundred languages despite Mandarin being the most dominant).

c. The use of third-party hire companies – rare in smaller cities in China but more prevalent in the Tier 1 cities.

d. Factories which offer exceptionally low prices.

e. Poor company processes which are largely weak and disorganised.

f. Lack of transparency to us as inspectors when we seek information about their labour demographics. Refusal to participate in audits or on-site inspections.

g. Workers who are withdrawn, fearful and reluctant to engage with visitors to the factory.

h. Confiscation of workers identity documents.

i. Restriction of movement or association. This may include workers living on-site or in company provided accommodation that they are not free to leave or restricting communication between workers and their families or social networks outside of the company they work for.

Child Labour: What do we look for?

a. Presence of children working in a factory. In China, this is largely very well regulated as the Chinese authorities are exceptionally proactive in clamping down on such activities. Culturally, adults tend to always be “on the lookout” for children due to the decades old one-child-policy.

China ratified the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) on 28 April 1999, and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) on 8 August 2002.

b. Children who are present at their family’s workshop / factory.

c. Children who are disproportionately falling behind their peers in their level of education while do not appear to be at school during school hours.

SourceWorxs acts as our clients’ representatives on the ground. We make this very clear to all manufacturing partners that both Modern Slavery and Child Labour are not acceptable. In addition, we also make it clear that suspected infringements to laws pertaining to the above will reported to authorities for further action to be taken.