15 May 2013


Some of the products we buy today in Britain may have been produced through the use of slave labour. 


There is evidence of slavery in different stages of the supply chain from the production of raw materials, for example cocoa and cotton farming, to manufacturing goods such as hand-knotted rugs and even at the final stage, when the product reaches the market. 


Typically the final product you purchase has passed through a long chain of producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers who have all participated in its production, delivery and sale.

It can therefore be very difficult to track a component of an end product back to a particular producer, for example cotton in a T-shirt back to a particular cotton farm.

For this reason it is not always possible to certify that a product has or has not been produced using slavery.

However the way in which companies operate can affect the likelihood of slavery being a part of the final product. If a brand gives its supplier a large order with a short turnaround time beyond the suppliers’ capacity, this could increase the risk of slavery as the supplier may subcontract work to factories or workers that are not regulated by the same standards as the supplier.

Company buyers may negotiate such low prices that suppliers are forced to push down the price it pays for the materials it needs, which can have a knock-on effect on those involved in the production of raw materials, increasing the likelihood of the use of forced labour.

Companies should ensure that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is respected across its whole supply chain to ensure that it is not inadvertently supporting slavery. For example, extreme poverty can lead workers into situations in which they find themselves enslaved and the government may not be properly enforcing labour laws and inspecting workplaces. 


Ricardo was made to live in the back of a locked removal van and forced to work on a farm picking tomatoes in Florida. He was forced into debt as his ‘employer’ charged punitive costs for food, rent etc. After more than a year he managed to escape through the ventilation hatch of the truck.

Florida tomatoes are bought by restaurant and fast-food chains. Anti-Slavery International supported the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ campaign, which succeeded in Burger King signing an agreement with them to ensure workers’ rights are respected. The agreement includes a zero-tolerance guideline for suppliers regarding certain unlawful activities such as forced labour.

Ask questions when you shop. Does your local retailer stock fair trade products? Use your consumer power to show you care -- buy fair trade marked products and Rugmark carpets, a certification scheme for rugs and carpets made without illegal child labour. In supermarkets, look out for the Fairtrade Mark. This is the best available guarantee that a product has not been produced using slave labour because goods can only be Fairtrade certified if they have complied with Fairtrade standards, which incorporate international human rights standards. For retail chains, write a letter to the company headquarters asking what measures the company is taking to identify, prevent and end the use of forced labour and slavery from their supply chain. Ask if the company is a member of the ETI and ask the company to explain how it is involved. 


In certain situations boycotting specific goods or countries can actually make the situation worse and undermine the economy of an already poor country. A boycott could hurt those in slavery-like conditions as well as those employers who are not exploiting their workers, and worsen the poverty that is one of the root causes of the problem. Support fair and ethical trade initiatives instead and use consumer power to encourage retailers and companies to move to the Fairtrade scheme.

New report from Anti-Slavery International exposes how top UK high street brands are selling clothing made by girls in slavery in southern India. Our research has uncovered the routine use of forced labour of girls and young women in the spinning mills and garment factories of five Indian clothing manufacturers that supply major western clothing retail brands.


supply chain: process of manufacture and distribution (cadena de suministro)
raw materials: not treated by manufacturing or other processes (materias primas)
retailer: person who sells goods in small quantities to consumers ( minorista, detallista, que vende al por menor)
supplier : provider ( proveedor, suministrador)
turn around time: plazo de entrega
push down (prices): lower ( bajar)
knock-on effect: efecto dominó, efecto devastador
inadvertedly: without intention (involuntariamente)
properly: correctly (correctamente, adecuadamente)
enforce: impose by force or reinforce (hacer cumplir, ejectuar)
removal van: camión de mudanzas
be forced into debt: forzados a endeudarse
punitive : relating to punishment (punitivo, disciplinario)
hatch: small opening (trampilla)
comply with: meet requirements, obey (cumplir con los requisitos, acatar, obedecer)
undermine: weaken gradually (debilitar, socavar)
spinning mill:hilandería


  1. Slavery is very, very bad. Big brands take profit from poor people of developing countries and make them work for long and in really bad conditions, just in order to make it cheaper and earn more money. They should start a marxist revolution!
    Marc and Marcial.

  2. First of all, I think that big brands use slavery in order to earn more money by reducing the costs of production. They take profit of poor people, exploit them and that's very unfair.
    Seconly, I think it's on our hand to stop this, we must be aware if there has been some kind of abuse during the supply chain. We must do something to stop this madness, slavery must be erradicated forever.

  3. Slavery is something we shouldn't be joking about. It's happening nowadays, in the 21st century and many poor and miserable people are involved. I think, that instead of creating a "marxist revolution", we should try to help them out by not buying those products, to buycott their market. And yes, maybe those people will loose their jobs, however, they will now be free to join another company and wish they have better luck. I hope slavery someday comes to an end so we can start living a world full of equality.

  4. Although everybody knows slavery is a reality in many countries,we tend to look the other way when somebody talks about this topic. We feel it has nothing to do with us, but, actually, we are those who estimulate this type of business, because each of us have a pair of nike trainers or a shirt from ZARA. But, on the other hand, we are living a financial crisis and, when we go shopping, we only try to buy the cheapest things, without taking into account if the process of production has been fair or not.

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  6. Slavery is a method to reduce the cost of production and make lot of benefits. Big brands like Nike or Zara use this method, consequently their products are very cheap and people buy them. The “employers” of these manufactures can do nothing, because they need the money to eat or because they are forced to work. Some brands like Nike are very famous and their products are very good, and lots of sports team are sponsored by Nike. I think that is very difficult not to buy products of Nike because, in my opinion, their products are one of the best; but I think that it could be more strict laws to prevent slavery. In conclusion, I think that in some cases like Nike, end with slavery is very difficult but if the government make more laws and we try not to buy their products, is possible end with slavery!

  7. A lot of big brands like Nike, Zara, Addidas... use the slavery in order to earn money when they do their products. I'm completly dessagre with the slarvery because, like this, rich people become richer and poor people become poorer, so we should stop it. But, on the other hand, it's difficult to stop it, because more and more shops are doing this and it's more difficult to found clothes which have done without slavery. It's in our hands to stop it, we must search another kind of shops, may be more unknow that they don't use the slarvery and bought on them.

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  9. Unfortunately, slavery still exists even in the century we live and this is due to us as knowing what the big brands like zara ,mango,Nike do , we keep buying these brands hepling it to continue exploiting children,woman, and so on.
    So, what we should do is stop buying these brands to provide adequate working conditions for these people and in this way, we will have helped them.

  10. Almost all of us feel sadness when we hear news about poverty and slavery. Certainly, these poor people's situation is totally unfair, but many brands (brands which we know) don't seem to care about this problem. In order to solve it, we should find out which products have been made using slavery and try not to buy them. Although this may be a solution, it's probably too difficult to achieve, so I believe that putting an end to slavery will be a long and hard process. Nevertheless, we shouldn't give up.

  11. Slavery is a serious problem in the world, because nowadays people is not supossed to suffer slavery, but big companies like Nike or Zara do this slavery and we know it but we keep buying his products just because they are cheap or good.
    That's why we must stop to buy this products and make protests to make this companies stop doing this and punish them for their crimes.

  12. It's a really shame that in the 21st century we have to still listening about slavery in underdeveloped countries. Many know brands, like Grupo Inditex, Nike or Addidas use slavery to get the same result without paying os much. To avoid bondage we should stop buying to this big companies, but it's a really difficult issue, that, unfourtanetly, it will take many efforts by developed countries to solve.

  13. Slavery!! What century are we? Are we in the Middle Age or in the ancient Egypt? It seems a shame that in the 21th century there is still slavery! The most embarrassing thing is that they are the big brands of clothing which are responsible for this inhuman treatment. Pessim working conditions, low ,ages, large hours . . . To change that? Really worth it?
    Child, who work in that factory,would be studing not working.The big brads take advantatge of their poverty and need to exploit them.

  14. The companies that everybody knows, whose products we buy, most of them, use slaves to produce our clothes, sneakers and to cultivate our food. That's a fact that we only can change. It's true that boycotts don't solve the problem. The way to change that is the support to ethical trade initiatives. That initiatives can convince the governments to make more laws to obligate companies to have a supply chain fair and without slavery.

  15. Today large corporations, only seek to produce long, at low cost and generate a lot of money, therefore resort to slavery of children or other people and this problem will ever again, and it is very difficult to stop. Luckily we can all act to counter this serious problem, there are alternative stores or we get to know about making the product that we buy, is a long and difficult struggle, but that can cope. It is very sad to see how you play with innocent people just to enrich a few, today there is very little awareness, we must all deal with this serious problem.

  16. Nowadays slavery is a common practice but the society don't worry about where are made and in which conditions are made some things such as clothes or electrodomestics. Slavery is a hard thing to fight, the first who have to take measures for fight it is the government of the slaver countries and the families of the slaved people.

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  18. I didn't know that nowadays there are cases like these. Slavery is inhumane. Nobody deserves that. Children should study not work and not to mention to be slaves. It's really unethical. Everybody should be conscious of what’s happening and change the situation. Perhaps to avoid this, we should stop buying big brands of industrial clothing and these big companies are penalized.

  19. It seems impossible that nowadays there is slavery due to we are in the 21st century. In that countries workers earn very little money. People of the world have to do something about this tragedy although this issue has a problem. If workers don't work in the factories where they earn a little bit money, that factories will go to another countries where they can produce their products and can pay so little money. Then, workers will have no money. For this reason, all the countries of the world have to forbid slavery at the same time.

  20. It seems impossible that nowadays there is slavery due to we are in the 21st century. In that countries workers earn very little money. People of the world have to do something about this tragedy although this issue has a problem. If workers don't work in the factories where they earn a little bit money, that factories will go to another countries where they can produce their products and can pay so little money. Then, workers will have no money. For this reason, all the countries of the world have to forbid slavery at the same time.

  21. Slavery is present in our current society, whether if we like it or not. In fact, it could be understood as the motor of our capitalist economic system. What most of the people take into account when they have to buy something is not only the price, but also the quality of the product. And that’s normal, especially at this economic crisis context. Companies know it very well and they look for the cheapest manpower, which is the slavery we are talking about. Although I am totally against it, I can’t criticize slavery because I dress some brands that are well-known for its slavery policy during the production.

  22. Although we all know about slavery, we don't care probably because it has nothing to do with us and this is a selfish attitude. Unfortunately our society is like this: people only think of themselves. Many people are promoting Human's rights and trying to end big problems such as poverty and they don't see nothing wrong in this kind of business because the result is rather advantageous: cheaper quality products.
    We should all have to concern about this topic because it can't be allowed to continue. There are many people living and working in very bad conditions.

  23. I'm surprised because it's incredible that our world is so advanced for some things and unable to stop cases like this.
    I hope that this case has made many people realize that this is more serious than it seems. Some people are being slaveried for we could buy products! Is that what we want? Of course not.
    To stop this, the first thing that is necessary is to conscience people of slavery problems.

  24. I think that slavery shouldn't exist nowdays, because we live in 21st century and that issue should have been resolved decades ago. Here people normally don't understand slavery's consequences, because Spain is part of the ''first world'', and it's very difficult for us imagine the real situation which are suffering the victims of this slavery. I believe that a good way to stop it would be chasing the big brands, and call for the victim's reporting to help condemning this brands which explote their employers.

  25. From my point of view I think that slavery should be terminated, nobody born to be a slave all his life as occurs in the case of Ricardo. When we go shopping we don't stop to think that this may have been manufactured by children and women slaves, something we should do. Also, I think we should do something to change this situation.

  26. slavery is a great method for large companies such as Nike, Zara and many more to increase their benefts and it's incredible that in the 21st century, in which we presume to modernity, we are allowing this savagery. Among all, we should finish with slavery. We must stop to buy this marcs because if we don't, we will be collaborating with slavery.

  27. Slavery is a big and very bad problem in our world. It's the evidence of the heartless capitalism that prevails in the society, and in our lifes. Nevertheless, the citoyens of the ''first world'' look the other way and don't anything to fight against the situation. Whereas, the big marks and internacional companies are wining milion of dollars as a consequence. We have to do something! I will never buy this products yet.

  28. Nowadays, most of the products that we buy in a shop or in a supermarket, are made by slaves. That's because slavery is a reality in many of the third world countries, but people in developed countries don't care about that and they continue buying them. Really, it's the best way of production for the big companies, because they have to pay a very low salary and they get a lot of money for that product made by "their slaves". This situation is known by the different governments, but they don't do anything, maybe because they have been bribed by these big companies.

  29. It seems impossible that salvery still exists nowadays.Slavery occurs in poor countries, where many habitants are forced to carry out making products, which later will be sold to rich countries. I think that, the habitants of rich countries have to help these people, because due to our capitalist system, these people are suffering.So we have try not to buy the products that have been produced by children, but this is very difficult since most products are made by slave children.

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  31. I don't think anyone thinks slavery is a good thing but it's a part of our everyday lives that we don't even think of. I'm wearing a pair of Nike shoes right now that were probably made in a sweatshop in china. It's a harsh reality but one that needs to be changed. It's something that should have never been implemented in the first place but due to greedy businessmen and detached corporate leaders it's something we have to live with for the time being.

  32. Is detestable that the companies exploit people, but is worse that people, who know the situation, carry on buying that products. The blame is not only for the companies too, as well the consumidors who knows the reality and don't denounce it are guilty too.

  33. Nowadays it is incredible that slavery continue exists and this is something that the humans should be avoid because of we have created this and therefore we must be unit for try to dissapear and the children, who are slaves,out of the work and cant study.

  34. Today slavery is happening in a lot of our streets stores: nike, inditext, adidas ... Slavery is a practice which started with the earlier civilizations and which continued being practiced during the Middle Age. However, this slavery raised in the third world with the globalization of the multinationals as inditext, nike, addidad, cocacola... A rising without brakes.

    So what can we do? Should we think it as an ancient tradition? Obviously no. It's a fact against the humans rights which enrich the richest and impoverishes the most poor. The future is in our hands, in the hands of society. Instead, slavery is held by four business.

    In my opinion I think there should be a boycott and companies should show transparency. Otherwise, we should start thinking more revolutionary measures.