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At what cost do we accept human suffering?

The human face of Modern Slavery is a sad one. The United Nations has estimated that more than 40 million people exist under forced labour conditions and many of these victims are in the global supply chains of the manufacturing and construction industries. In addition, over 150 million children are subject to child labour and a percentage of these are occurring in product supply chains.

Accounts of Modern Slavery and human suffering unfortunately are not diminishing in supply chains – they are increasing. Most countries, including Australia, are implicit in the perpetuation of the problem, indicating the need for greater accountability. Modern Slavery tracking and reporting by companies to address the problem. West Australian Senator, the Hon. Linda Reynolds, who assisted the introduction of Australia's Modern Slavery Bill 2018, highlighted the fact when she stated:

"More than half of the world's victims of modern slavery are exploited in the Asia-Pacific region, a fact which often comes as a surprise to Australians. Many of the products and services Australians use may be impacted or tainted at some point in the supply chain by forced labour."

A company that is helping to turn around this profound, humanitarian problem is the sustainable product certification company, Global GreenTag International who in 2020 after 2 years of development, launched the world's first Modern Slavery Declaration for products at New York Build in New York City – the Global GreenTag International Modern Slavery Declaration™ or Global GreenTag International (GGTI) MSD™.

The GGTI MSD™ is a declaration by a product manufacturer or supplier, relating to the risk of Modern Slavery occurring in one of their product's supply chains. It includes an assessment of the quality of data and research employed, providing product buyers, like the Australian building industry, with the right information to choose products and materials ethically and with clarity and discernment. It also helps companies to prepare their own Modern Slavery Statements, now required under the Modern Slavery Act for companies based, or operating, in Australia with an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million.

Manufacturers leading the Modern Slavery elimination challenge

Earp Bros, a 138 year old, Australian owned, family business submitted their imported, high quality, wall and floor tile products to the GGTI MSD™ and are nearing completion of the process. Josh Earp, Marketing Manager for the company, said:
"We would challenge all Australian suppliers to join us on this journey. The importance of people, both within our Australian team and wider supply chains has never been underestimated. When Global GreenTag approached us to become the First Australian manufacturer to take up the Modern Slavery Declaration, we were humbled, but also felt a sense of responsibility – being transparent across all areas of our operations ensures our customers, manufacturing partners and team members can be confident in the ethical approach we take to business."

Mary-Lou Kelly, GGTI's Managing Director said: "Earp Bros carries the spirit of what we had hoped for when first designing the MSD™. We wanted to motivate and help guide companies to go beyond modern slavery reporting – identifying, assessing, measuring and monitoring – to become agents of change and advocates for the issue, alongside that of complying with the criteria for reporting of the Australian Modern Slavery Act. We are proud that more manufacturers have come forward as well – each are committed to uncover and share what is occurring in their supply chains at a human level."

Working with the GGTI MSD™ tool, manufacturers provide information in confidence to GGTI's assessors of activities known – to the best of their knowledge – occurring in their product supply chains on a range of Modern Slavery issues: Deceptive Recruiting, Trafficking, Servitude, Forced Labour, Forced Marriage, Debt Bondage, Worst Forms of Child Labour, Discrimination, Equal Remuneration, Free Association and Collective Bargaining.

GGTI's assessors then harness the GGTI MSD™ tool to conduct a comprehensive, risk assessment, verification and ranking process on all of these issues on individual product supply chains to produce a final GGTI MSD™ Report and Product Scorecard that provides clarity for all parties along supply chains, communicating transparently:

the risk of Modern Slavery in each ingredient or element supply chain;
and the reliability of the data, which the GGTI MSD™ statement is based upon.

The GGTI MSD™ report provides individual supply chain scores and weighted overall average score and risk rankings of 'Very Low Risk', 'Low Risk', 'Low to Medium Risk' through to 'Medium' and 'Very High Risk'. It provides a quick product Modern Slavery Risk overview, as well as detailed supporting documentation for a manufacturer's or their purchasers' corporate Modern Slavery Statements, whether these be mandated or voluntarily undertaken.

GGTI adds, as legislation gets stronger your proactive preparation will have you as leading contributors to help solve this global issue.

For more information, please contact Brett Hazlett, Global Sales Strategist.

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