Modern Slavery: Kiwis Spending $34 a Week on ‘Risky Products’

According to new research by World Vision, more than $3billion worth of goods linked to forced or child labour are being imported by New Zealand each year.

The report, Risky Goods New Zealand Imports, has outlined which risky goods are coming into the country, where they are coming from and who is being exploited as well as providing recommendations on how to improve the situation.

Kiwi households were spending $34 a week on average on "risky" goods, including clothing, footwear, toys, furniture, bananas, and coffee, according to World Vision national director Grant Bayldon.

"At the moment, the approach is 'don't ask, don't tell', it's almost impossible for Kiwis to know exactly what is going on. A Modern Slavery Act would require companies to check who is making their products, to disclose that and to do something about it when modern slavery is found," he said.

The World Vision report’s key findings include that New Zealanders imported $3.1bn of risky products from 44 countries in 2019. They spent most on risky products from China and garments were the highest-spend risky good with two-thirds of them coming from China, with links to forced labour.

The report made five recommendations including that the New Zealand government should enact modern slavery legislation and that New Zealand should follow international best practice when designing this legislation. It also called for companies to take action to identify modern slavery and human rights risks in their operations and supply chains.

Last year, Woolworths Group released its first Modern Slavery Statement outlining the steps the company has taken to identify, manage and mitigate the specific risks of modern slavery in its operations and supply chain.

“Our Modern Slavery Statement is an intuitive next step of our work to embed human rights into the way we go about our business every day so that every decision we make has our purpose and values at heart,” commented General Manager Quality, Sustainability and Health, Alex Holt.

“Although our supply chains are complex, our goal is to ensure that human rights issues are understood, respected and upheld.”