Bernie Gravett was one of only 2 UK delegates invited to participate in the UK Human Rights Council conference on preventing the exploitation of workers during recruitment: Regulation and enforcement models which took place in Geneva, Switzerland on 24th June 2015. The event took place in the United Nations Palais, Room IX. It was hosted by the UNODC, ILO and UNHCR and attended by representatives of civil and public bodies from around the world.
SPC were invited to participate by DCAF a centre for security, development and rule-of-law a Swiss based security organization.
SPC were one of only 2 UK organisations to take part in the event, the other being the Gang masters Licensing Authority. It was a recognition of the expertise of Bernie Gravett in the field of human trafficking and countering international organised crime.
The event was a discussion and experts forum to deal with the issues that in today’s globalized economy, workers are increasingly looking for job opportunities beyond their home countries. In addition, millions of workers migrate internally. Public and private employment agencies, when appropriately regulated, play an important role in mediating opportunities for productive employment and decent work, and promoting the efficient and equitable functioning of labour markets.
However, concerns are being raised about unscrupulous employment agencies, informal labour recruiters and criminal traffickers who prey on vulnerable and low-skilled workers in particular, acting outside national legal and regulatory frameworks. Reported abuses include deception about the nature and conditions of work, retention of passports, deposits and illegal wage deductions, debt bondage linked to repayment of recruitment fees, and threats of violence or deportation if workers want to leave their employer. A combination of these abusive practices can lead to forced labour. The response to such abusive and irregular labour recruitment practices requires collaboration between source and destination countries as well as between governments, workers’ and employers’ organisations and civil society.