Addressing Exploitation in Supply Chains: Is Technology a Game Changer for Worker Voice?

Anti-Trafficking Review, Issue 14, 2020, pp. 47-66, DOI/10.14197/atr.201220144

20 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020

See all articles by Laurie Berg

Laurie Berg

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law

Bassina Farbenblum

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Angela Kintominas

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law; Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

Date Written: April 27, 2020

Abstract

Multinational businesses are facing mounting pressure to identify and address risks of exploitation, trafficking and modern slavery in their supply chains. Digital worker reporting tools present unprecedented opportunities for lead firms to reach out directly to hard-to-reach workers for feedback on their working conditions via their mobile phone. These new technologies promise an efficient and cost-effective way to cut through the complexity of global production, gathering unmediated data on working conditions directly from workers at scale. As the market for these tools grows, this paper contextualises their emergence within the broader political economy of supply chain governance. It presents three sets of concerns about their use that must be addressed by businesses, investors, donors and governments that develop or utilise these tools. First, the quality of data gathered by these tools may be inadequate to reliably inform decision-making. Second, global brands may gather large quantities of worker data to identify legal, reputational and financial risks without addressing structural causes of exploitation or delivering outcomes for workers. Third, large scale collection of data from workers creates new risks for workers’ wellbeing and safety.

Keywords: supply chain, labour exploitation, modern slavery, technology, worker voice, migrant worker

Suggested Citation

Berg, Laurie and Farbenblum, Bassina and Kintominas, Angela, Addressing Exploitation in Supply Chains: Is Technology a Game Changer for Worker Voice? (April 27, 2020). Anti-Trafficking Review, Issue 14, 2020, pp. 47-66, DOI/10.14197/atr.201220144, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3586403

Laurie Berg (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney
Australia

Bassina Farbenblum

University of New South Wales (UNSW) ( email )

Kensington
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Angela Kintominas

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney ( email )

Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
40
Abstract Views
181
PlumX Metrics