September 16, 2019
 In 2023-Worker Protection From Labor Exploitation

Country: United Kingdom
Delegate Name: Abby Huffman

Labor Exploitation is all too prevalent in recent society, as the International Labor Organization estimates that 49.6 million people were subject to modern slavery in 2021. Of that 49.6 million, 27.6 million people were forced into labor while the other 22 million were forced into marriage. To make matters worse, the situation is further deteriorating. Approximately 10 million more people are reported to experience modern slavery today than five years ago. Moreover, it is important to establish that 86% of forced labor occurs in the private sector, highlighting the necessity of commercial regulation. 23% of all forced labor comes in the form of sexual exploitation, which is at the expense of women and young girls four out of five times. Additionally, 3.3 million children are subjected to poor and forced labor, and 50% of those children are also forced into commercial sexual exploitation. Immigrants also face labor exploitation, often through human trafficking, at disproportionate rates; a migrant worker is three times more likely to be forced into labor than a native worker. To combat these issues, the ILO, a UN agency, adopted the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930. Its purpose, in the words of Amelia Espejo of the International Organisation of Employers, is “to take a more comprehensive approach to forced labor by focusing on prevention, protection and remedy issues which were not addressed by the Forced Labour Convention in 1930”. However, this effort does not go far enough. The United Kingdom calls upon the UNDP to clearly establish workers’ rights and to improve the socio-economic standings of women, children, and migrants to prevent greater labor exploitation from occurring.

The United Kingdom has made various major efforts to tackle labor exploitation in its own country. In the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, the UK created the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Similar to the American equivalent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the HSE is a national, independent watchdog organization—serving as the UK’s main health and safety regulator. The HSE is entrusted with enacting and enforcing legislation aimed at preventing workplace accidents, injuries, illnesses, and deaths. It also provides guidance to employers on how to comply with health and safety laws, free resources, and any changes to new legislation regarding worker protection. As both the HSE in the United Kingdom and OSHA in the United States (and many other national organizations across the globe) have seen tremendous success in improving workplace safety standards in their respective nations, the UK would like to see a similar institution created or improved upon within the UN. Such an agency would require employers to create and publish workplace safety policies, provide financial incentives to companies who comply with the standards instituted by the UNDP, and suggest potential consequences for workers and human rights violations. As a regulator, a global version of the HSE could ensure the bettering of working conditions in developing and developed countries alike. Funding can be garnered from the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery (UN Slavery Fund) and NGOs like World Vision, Global March Against Child Labor, and many more. It is also of the utmost importance that the UNDP address economic and social inequalities that lead to many people in forced labor or accepting poor working conditions. The illegal trafficking of people into modern-day slavery in the UK is more common than one may expect, and almost all those trafficked come from overseas. The United Kingdom is committed to improving its treatment of migrant workers, and providing more support to them once they escape trafficking or forced labor. Promoting migrants in social and financial aspects will protect them in work, as well as reduce discrimination in the global job market. Finally, an essential part of worker protection is fair wages and working hours. The United Kingdom has the third highest minimum wage in Western Europe and continues to adjust it to compete with inflation. Furthermore, the UK prevents corporations from requiring employees to work more than 48 hours on average per week.

While the United Kingdom is not exempt from issues regarding worker protection, it has taken significant steps in regulating workplace health and safety violations as well as decreasing social, economic, and ethnic discrimination that lead to unsafe conditions for workers. On an international scale, the UK would like to see a resolution that supports the improvement of conditions for immigrants, establishes global standards and regulations for workers’ rights, and provides financial incentives, assistance, and resources to certain nations and corporations. Because labor exploitation occurs in so many nations, and many other nations profit from it, a global solution must be implemented to ensure the future protection and prosperity of the working class.