Date Released: 08 January 2013
SIPTU has welcomed the decision of the Irish Government to criminalise forced labour and to provide greater protection for victims of modern day slavery.
SIPTU Services Division Organiser, John King, said that the Government decision to insert a definition of forced labour into Irish law will help to eliminate the discrimination against, and exploitation of, workers in Ireland. It also means that employers who commit this criminal act can now be prosecuted.
“This is another measure that will help to eliminate discrimination and the exploitation of people who are induced into forced labour or modern day slavery. It is an important protection for workers across a number of particularly vulnerable employment sectors,” he said.
The decision to bring Irish law into line with government commitments under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention of Forced Compulsory Labour follows a number of high profile instances where workers in this country were treated as slaves by their employers, John King added.
The decision was also welcomed by the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) and other groups that have been campaigning for the criminalisation of forced labour.
Gráinne O’Toole of MRCI stated; “The MRCI has campaigned for a number of years for a law to criminalise forced labour and we very much welcome this legal amendment. Our experience is that victims will not come forward if there are not clear protections, rights and supports in place.”
She said that forced labour is an extreme form of exploitation and can involve deception, coercion, debt bondage and threats or actual physical harm. The MRCI has dealt with over 179 cases of forced labour over the last 6 years, she said.