Small tweaks can have an impact

Beating exploitation of vulnerable workers may seem like a steep task but there are small, practical steps all businesses can take to ensure they’re discouraging the horrible practice.

Vulnerable workers are generally considered to be workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; migrants; or young people.

By the end of the year CCI will join the fight with simple contractual changes that will make its supply chain more accountable with the addition of some simple clauses requiring suppliers to meet their legal obligations as employers or face cancellation of contracts.

Group Manager People, Legal and Risk Julie Jones says CCI is striving to be a model organisation in terms of engagement in supply chain management.

“I gave a lot of thought about what we’re doing as an organisation, what can we do to stop exploitation and where our pressure points are as an organisation,” she says.

“For us, it’s not direct staff, it’s the people who we engage to provide services to us. There are particular services that would be at risk and they would be considered vulnerable workers, generally foreign workers and workers with English as a second language. They would also be on minimum wage.”

Jones says the draft clause has been pulled from the Commonwealth Criminal Code and the Fair Work Act.

“We have it built into our normal contract that people comply with the laws but that isn’t shining a spotlight on it,” she says.

“We are trying to be more proactive by requiring suppliers to give us evidence that they’re satisfying their legal obligations. If they can’t or we are not satisfied with the evidence, we’ll terminate their contract.”

While cutting costs in this climate is expected Jones says she wants to make sure it’s not resulting in exploitation.

“As with a lot of business we’ve got pressure to cut costs but by putting pressure on our suppliers to cut their costs what we don’t want to happen is that people become exploited,” she says.

“For us we can tell businesses, it might not be a lot, but this is what you can do and this is the first step in that direction.”


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