Brazil is regarded as a model, because it has taken big strides in the fight against slave labor, affirmed PatrÀcia Audi, national coordinator of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) project for Combating Slave Labor in Brazil.
Monday, April 17, at a seminar in São Paulo, "From Cotton to T-shirts: How Companies and Consumers Can Exercise Their Social Responsibility," she observed that the problem persists in various productive sectors, such as livestock-raising, cotton, and soybeans.
According to Audi, the private sector made a significant advance in May, 2005, with the signing of the National Pact Against Slave Labor, in which it pledged not to purchase items produced with the employment of slave labor.
"With respect to cotton, we received the support of the Brazilian Textile Industry Association and of some enterprises that subscribed to this pact right away."
From the ILO’s standpoint, she explained, the motives for companies to adhere to the pact are immaterial. What matters is that slave labor really be abolished.
The ILO undertook a dialogue with cotton textile companies interested in eliminating this type of labor. According to Audi, they made use of information based on the Ministry of Labor and Employment’s "blacklist" of firms that acquire inputs derived from slave labor. Around 10% of the firms on the list, she added, are linked to the cotton textile sector.
Audi emphasized that consumers should also contribute to the fight against slave labor by identifying the firms that did not adhere to the pact and demanding that they get on board.
As well as demanding that the National Congress approve the Constitutional Amendment bill (PEC) providing for the expropriation of properties where workers submitted to slave working conditions are discovered.