Calls for the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) to Include Living Income and Fair Purchasing Practices

70 NGOs and producer organisations issued a

The CSDDD aims to develop sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour to tackle the cause of human rights violations and environmental harm in companies’ global value chains. This Directive establishes corporate due diligence requirements to protect those most vulnerable in supply chains.

NGOs and producer organisations have called on policy makers to go further and explicitly reference living wages and a decent standard of living as a human right.  Inclusion of responsible purchasing practices and a living income is necessary to address the root causes faced by those most vulnerable in corporate supply chains. Many companies have not adopted these practices into their operations, hence improvements in living wages will continue to be stunted without legal requirements. EU businesses should join this effort to strengthen its position with policymakers which will ultimately make positive change for those most vulnerable in corporate supply chains.

What can your organisation do?

  • Ensure due diligence across global supply chains references and includes living wages and commitments to responsible purchasing practices.
  • Support NGOs and producer organisations, where possible, to call upon policy makers to improve legislation to drive real positive change for those most vulnerable in corporate supply chains.

Past Issues


Public procurement in the UK faces increased modern slavery and human trafficking risks due to the precarious immigration status of many migrants entering the country. Businesses need to adopt enhanced due diligence procurement frameworks to safeguard migrants from exploitation within their operations and supply chain.

There has been a drastic increase in the number of Albanian migrants arriving in the UK via dangerous methods of transportation, such as using small boats to cross the English Channel. Upon arrival, many migrants do not legally register their presence in the UK, hence ‘disappear’ and enter illegal work in high-risk sectors for labour exploitation across the country such as care, construction, and facilities management (including cleaning and waste disposal)

Construction is a particularly high-risk sector for the labour exploitation of migrant workers and has one of the highest spend for public procurement in the UK. For instance, the GLAA identified Romanian and Albanian victims in the construction sector experiencing: wage theft, debt bondage, excessive working hours, and poor working safety practices.

These exploitation forms are also present in the cleaning sector, with similar eastern European demographics being exploited. The most common practices of exploitation in the care sector include sector-wide evasion of national minimum wage (NMW) laws, poor working conditions (e.g. lack of training and PPE), and excessive working hours.

What can your organisation do?

  • Conduct thorough Right to Work checks on all employees.
  • Adhere to the Employer Pays Principle (EPP) to mitigate risks of debt bondage.
  • Establish effective internal grievance and remediation mechanisms and clearly signpost how to access and report through these pathways in your own organisation. STOP THE TRAFFIK have developed their own tool for reporting, called The STOP APP. This is a free option for anonymously, confidentially and securely submitting any suspicious activity and can be downloaded on any smartphones of workers.
  • Provide training and awareness of modern slavery to both internal staff and suppliers to build overall exploitation risk mitigation capacity.


After 10 months without an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC), the UK government is facing increased scrutiny as protection for victims is falling behind the rest of Europe. Without a high degree of accountability at a government level, sustainability agendas will need to be pushed from within individual businesses.

The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC)’s role is to oversee the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act) and ensure its enactment, enforcement and promotion. The aim is to hold the government and stakeholders accountable. Without someone in post, this responsibility has fallen more to NGOs and other external actors.

Currently the Home Office is making an effort to push through laws which restrict access to support and change definitions of modern slavery, putting survivors and communities at risk. This increases the need for an Independent UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner to ensure oversight and accountability.

There is speculation the Home Office is delaying appointment due to an effort to push through laws which restrict access to support and change definitions of modern slavery, putting survivors and communities at risk.

According to the Home Office, recruitment is currently in progress, though based on the previous process, it could take several months for the role to be filled. In the meantime, it is becoming more difficult for survivors to access support despite an economic and political climate which increases the risks of exploitation. Without access to support, individuals may not seek help or be able to leave the situation they are in.

What can your organisation do? 

  • Consider how lobbying or advocacy roles within your organisation might be used to encourage the government to take action and be held accountable for policy decisions;
  • Ensure compliance with the Act, pushing for best practice to ensure safe reporting of exploitation;
  • Monitor new legislation enacted and ensure policies are in place to support at-risk individuals regardless of government changes.


The high-profile crash of a carrier into the Rio-Niterói bridge in late 2022 has once again brought attention to the waters of Brazil’s Guanabara Bay. Failed water pollution clean-up of this freshwater reserve is increasing the modern slavery and exploitation risk of the fishing communities who rely on the bay for their livelihood.

For many years, Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro has been a dumping ground for sewage and toxic waste, produced both by humans and by abandoned ships which gradually leak out toxic fuel. This has led to an insufficient number of fish in the bay, forcing fishermen to turn to other livelihoods, such as garbage-digging. Several state funded attempts have been made to clean up the water pollution but have never properly succeeded.

The insecurity experienced by the fishermen drastically increases the risk of exploitation as it pushes a vulnerable population into other forms of employment, which may be informal, low-paid and in a high-risk sector for exploitation. Water vulnerability can also force mass displacement of communities, where they become at risk of exploitation whilst in search of a new livelihood. Even when large scale clean-ups have been attempted in the bay, these have only exacerbated problems, as the eco-barriers used further block the fishermen from accessing parts of the river.

When the risk of modern slavery and exploitation develops from failed-clean ups, it will likely impact wider authorities by placing pressure on law enforcement and victim support systems to respond. Governments should choose to take effective steps now to manage and clean up water pollution to help mitigate the pressure that state institutions and authorities will increasingly face.

What can your organisation do?

  • Consult with vulnerable communities who depend on a particular water system for their livelihoods. Make them part of decisions about the management of the water resource.
  • Implement a policy for all government officials to receive training to ensure they are cognisant of the modern slavery and exploitation risks linked to the governance of water systems.


Collective accountability in Bangladesh has led to proven safety reform in the region. 10 years on, the Accord remains a key piece of health and safety legislation for protecting workers.

The tragic and avoidable deaths and injury of workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse led to the creation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, since renamed the International Accord on Health and Safety (the Accord). 10 years later, much can be learned from its principles and application, namely the criticality of legal and financial consequences; the importance of effective grievance mechanisms; and the need to enforce responsible procurement practices.

As the Accord is a legally binding agreement, signatories are obligated to address the non-compliances identified, or risk facing union-led arbitration. Demonstrating this principal is the rise in popularity of mandatory due diligence with more stringent application. There is now an increasing global trend in due diligence legislation, designed to place greater responsibility on businesses to keep workers safe.

Another key learning is the importance of worker voice. The Accord uses an independently run grievance mechanism to ensure the safety of workers seeking remedy. Workers have reported its success, a sign that future legislation should promote independently monitored mechanisms designed to democratise accountability.

A criticism of the Accord is brands are not obligated to change how they procure goods, meaning prices do not have to reflect the increased costs of adhering to safety standards. This put pressure on suppliers and can engender reductions in wages or exploitative working hours to drive down these new costs. Brands should consider how they can reconcile commercial terms negotiated with suppliers and commitments to health and safety and human rights.

To prevent future major events occurring, legislators should use the Accord as an example and engage with the workers and unions which is at the heart of the policy’s success.

What can your organisation do?

  • Ensure legislation enables close monitoring and enforcement by unions and workers themselves, empowering them to seek remedy.
  • Encourage collective agreements in your industry which are non-competitive and promote joint responsibility at a global level.
  • Implement responsible buying practice guidelines which offer detailed projections, restrictions around cancellations and fair and timely payment of suppliers, which will ultimately protect their workers.


The growth of food delivery platforms since the COVID pandemic has increased the risks of delivery rider exploitation, with temporary work and app-based roles negating employers’ obligations to provide basic workers’ rights to riders. The recent agreements in France, guaranteeing French delivery riders a minimum hourly wage, indicate the value of promoting basic workers’ rights to reduce the risks of labour exploitation.

The COVID pandemic facilitated the rapid expansion of the gig economy, work which often includes agency or temporary work, short-term contracts and online platform roles which have significant risks for labour exploitation. Across the world, food delivery riders are categorised as self-employed, which negates online delivery platforms’ obligations to provide any form of basic workers’ rights (including minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay). This leaves delivery riders vulnerable to exploitation in working practices.

Food delivery platforms have traditionally paid riders per delivery rather than time worked and this unpredictable earning places further pressure on riders. In France, the Fédération Nationale des Auto Entrepreneurs (FNAE) has been representing delivery workers in discussions with food delivery platforms to ensure a legal minimum hourly wage. France’s Labour minister, Olivier Dussopt, called this a “real step forward in strengthening the rights of delivery workers,” as this is a first of its kind in France. French delivery riders will now receive a minimum hourly wage of €11.75, which is higher than France’s current minimum hourly wage. Whilst this agreement guarantees French delivery riders a predictable income, it has also improved the dialogue between workers and employers in the gig economy regarding other basic worker rights.

Supportive facilitation of social dialogue between employers and employees, especially in high-risk sectors for labour exploitation, is important in improving the understanding, accessibility, and implementation of basic workers’ rights.

What can your organisation do?

  • Ensure that platforms exist to facilitate dialogue between employers and employees, unions, and workers themselves.
  • Drive collective action to educate and support workers in the gig economy to ensure they have access to their basic worker rights, including minimum wage, sick pay and holiday pay.


The recent relaxation of child labour regulations in the United States indicates an increased risk of the child exploitation in high-risk sectors, such as agriculture. In this context, it’s important for US businesses along with the public sector to be diligent in monitoring working conditions and in mitigating possible human rights violations.

Over the last two years, at least 10 states have introduced or enacted legislative changes on the law regulating work requirements for young people. Arkansas’ Youth Hiring Act, for example, eliminates the need for proof of age, parental permission, and an employer’s signature for a teenager to secure a work permit. These developments are a result of employers struggling to fill open roles due to a spike in retirement, deaths, and prolonged illnesses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The push to relax labour regulations has caused concern among workers’ rights advocates, as high-risk sectors in the United States are commonly linked to exploitative child labour. This year over 100 children were found working illegally in food safety sanitation with hazardous chemicals. The food processing sector is already known to be high-risk due to a high prevalence of occupational injuries among workers, many of whom are migrants.

Changes will also lower the age requirements for child labour in high risk sectors, with children aged 14 and 15 allowed to work in mining, logging and meatpacking. In Arkansas the elimination of work permits requirements, such as the verification of a child’s age and a parent’s consent, facilitates claims of ignorance from companies caught violating child labour laws. Without work permit requirements, it will become harder to investigate companies labour violations.

What can your organisation do?

  • Set clear expectations with current and potential suppliers in the US by updating policies to include specific protections for minors, beyond that of local legislation and that match best practice outlined by the International Labour Organisation.
  • Identify and address violations by establishing grievance and remediation mechanisms which are accessible by minors.


Since the UK’s first prosecution of human trafficking for organ removal in March of this year, momentum on tackling the issue of organ trafficking has grown. Governments and Health Services globally are in a prime position to take action now to intervene and prevent this type of exploitation.

Though organ trafficking is rarely detected or reported as a crime and is sparsely researched, the UK’s first prosecution of human trafficking for organ removal has helped bring the issue in the spotlight.

Organ trafficking is the illegal removal of body parts for transplant, commonly sold by traffickers for a profit. Whilst this can occur with the victim’s initial consent (often after luring them with false payment promises), it can also occur without it. Regardless of whether consent is received, organ traffickers target vulnerable people, deploying tactics that coerce and deceive their victims. Tactics include luring victims to locations using false job or payment promises; lying or failing to fully disclose the true health risks; using persistent pressure to exploit victim’s personal circumstances; or using the guise of treatment for personal ailments to remove organs without victim’s knowledge.

In July 2022, traveling abroad for a paid-for-transplant was made a criminal offence in England, Scotland and Wales. Governments and Health Services are in a prime position to take action that holds those who profit from transplant-related crimes accountable, and protect existing victims, those vulnerable to victimisation, as well as whistleblowers in frontline roles.

In the case of the prosecution in March, the organ donation process was halted when healthcare workers became suspicious that the victim didn’t understand the situation they were in, fearing the individual had been coerced. By strengthening the evaluation of living donors and taking further co-ordinated action could allow for further cases to be identified and more traffickers being brought to justice.

What can your organisation do?

  • Equip frontline workers with the training and knowledge to spot the signs including identifying forged documents; and knowing what to do if a case is suspected.
  • Strengthen channels of communication between health care and law enforcement, and support campaigns to help vulnerable populations understand the true risks and combat misinformation.
  • Provide legal protections, social and medical support for victims, and create a conducive environment for historic victims to report cases. If you or someone you know has been affected by this issue but is not in immediate danger, you can report cases to our STOP app and receive sign-posting for support.


The opportunity for Australians to vote for a constitutional amendment to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Parliament is fast approaching. Businesses are playing a key role in the run-up to the referendum to support indigenous communities and advocate for protections against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have historically been underrepresented in Australian politics. As a result, these communities have less protection against vulnerabilities that can lead to modern slavery. In 2017, 250 First Nations representatives delivered the Uluru Statement From The Heart which asks for Australians to build a better future by establishing a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty making and truth-telling. Six years later in 2023, Australia is set to have a referendum that will decide whether these communities will be recognised in Parliament through a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. This new body will provide non-binding advice to Australia’s Parliament and will aim to “address entrenched disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Indigenous communities are vulnerable to MSHT, as they are at the forefront of climate change, deforestation, and corporate environmental degradation which causes community displacement. In Australia, they also have a much lower employment rate (51%) than other Australians (74%) according to the 2021 census which can increase vulnerability to exploitation.

At present, some of Australia’s biggest businesses have voiced support for the changes, including miners, banks and retailers such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ and Woolworths. The combined advocacy and funding of the “Yes” campaign from businesses will have a significant influence on the result later this year. Polling data from the 7th of August shows that currently the “No” vote overtakes “Yes” in all states except Victoria. Supporters believe a “Yes” outcome will result in the strengthening of Parliament’s understanding on the topic rather than supplant its authority.

What can your organisation do?

  • If based in Australia, show support for the constitutional amendment by voting in support of the change and sharing information publicly about the impacts in the run up to the referendum in October 2023.
  • Ensure that supplier due diligence systems across businesses with global supply chains incorporate protections for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and wider indigenous communities where risk is present.
  • Understand what effective remediation can look like by consulting indigenous communities themselves.


Although the UK government has chosen to no longer enforce EU law guaranteeing the protection of workers, women will still have the right to equal pay. Businesses have a key role in supporting the UK government’s introduction of secondary legislation to strengthen equal pay protections for female workers.

In May 2023, the UK government published a list of EU laws they planned to remove, including the “single source test” EU regulation which gives women the right to equal pay for doing equal work, even if they work for different employers or in different locations. This law was critical to the success of recent landmark disputes involving women cashier workers at retailers in the UK food and agriculture sector, who argued their pay should be comparable to the  staff employed at the retailers’ distribution depots who are majority men.

To ensure men and women receive equal pay for equal work, the UK government has promised to lay out new secondary legislation to strengthen protections. This secondary legislation, replicating the EU laws, goes further than the UK Equality Act by allowing women to compare themselves to a man who is not in the same employment or location but where the difference in pay is from a single source. Businesses must be aware of this legislative change to improve existing equal pay principles, including outsourced work, for their UK operations.

What can your organisation do?

  • Evaluate your equal pay policies and investigate equal pay practices between jobs undertaken predominantly by women and those undertaken by men in your operations.
  • Monitor and implement equal pay clearly across your organisation, in line with upcoming Equal Pay laws.


The care sector in the UK employs 1.8 million workers, and staff turnover is almost 30%. As such, the UK’s social care system is relying heavily on overseas agencies to recruit low-paid migrant workers, who are vulnerable to exploitation, to fill gaps in the workforce.

In March 2023, about 58,000 people came from overseas to help fill the 165,000 vacancies in the UK social care sector. Workers are being recruited from countries such as India, Nepal, Philippines, Ghana, and Bulgaria through third party agencies and contractors. In these countries advertisements are posted on social media and other formal job sites, along with in person recruitment efforts where practices of debt bondage are commonly reported. Third party contractors and agencies are routinely retaining workers’ identification and controlling negotiations with care businesses. Whilst public service unions have received reports of care workers working 19 hour shifts without breaks, having their wages withheld and being required to be on call permanently. Businesses need to hold themselves accountable for the use of recruitment agencies that can facilitate exploitation practices in their operations.

What can your organisation do?

  • Train corporate HR teams on how to spot the signs of potential exploitation, such as multiple workers having the same contact and bank details.
  • Conduct enhanced due diligence on recruitment agencies or contract labour providers and enforce compliance with your labour rights policies and procedures.
  • Support workers in understanding their rights and provide a reporting mechanism accessible for the workforce to report and raise concerns of exploitation.

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