11th April 2014, Tristan Forster spoke at the Global Supply Chains Summit in London.

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) partnered with The Guardian and Humanity United to convene a major conference on Trafficking and Forced Labour in supply chains:

Global Supply Chains Summit – Business Leadership to tackle forced labour and trafficking in supply chains: responsibility, respect and rights.  



Thank you to the Guardian HU and IHRB for inviting me to this extremely important event:

Thank you also to you all and particularly to Pete Pattison for some outstanding impact based, multimedia journalism revealing the plight of migrant workers in the Gulf.  I believe that your combined initiative to highlight debt bondage and workers conditions will be a defining point in bringing an end to debt bondage.

Temporary Migrant workers in many parts of the world and specifically newly industrialised countries in the Middle East and Asia suffer severely from labour exploitation characterized by debt bondage and its associated coercion and corruption.

90% of these Low skilled migrant workers suffer from some form of debt bondage ranging from level 1 exploitation whereby they pay the debts back within a year to level 3 where they never manage to repay the debt.

A common migration experience

Agents at the village level charge would be migrant workers money to be introduced to a manpower power company

The manpower company charges them a further fee to be linked up with employment overseas.  The worker doesn’t have that money so they take a loan from the manpower company at 40% interest.

The worker arrives in the destination country to realize that the salary they will earn is actually much less than they were promised.

They realize that it is going to take much longer to pay back their bond than they anticipated – they are demoralized and ashamed that they have let down their families are unable lift them out of poverty in the way they dreamed of.  Also they are trapped.  Hence we call this modern day slavery.

The reality is as dramatic and shocking as its sounds – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

We have developed a business model which provides migrant workers with corruption-free migration to work.  No fees are charged to them and we protect them throughout their deployment to and employment on the job.  This is called Ethical Manpower Provision and is based on a systemic process which we call the FSI Labour system.

Own our recruitment infrastructure
Replace the agents at the village level
Police out corrupt middle men
Hold employers to international standards and to the terms and conditions promised in the village.

The impact is happy productive workers selected based on merit rather than workers coerced into debt bondage.

Ethical Manpower provision delivers increased productivity and bottom line benefits – it may seem obvious that such investment in people makes business sense but the combination of an addiction to cheap low skilled labour and kick back culture between source country agents, manpower companies and employers perpetuates this divisive dysfunctional model.

It has to change.

This is a historic opportunity for Qatar or indeed any of the other effected countries to lead their region and indeed the world in addressing debt bondage.  It requires an investment both financial and idealogical

But such an investment will change millions of people lives and will deliver to the investors returns through increased productivity and the reputational legacy for having dealt the death blow to debt bondage.  Lets help them make this happen.

  • Outline of typical recruitment process for migrant workers into the Gulf.
  • Key issues facing migrant construction workers in the region.
  • Pinch points of exploitation in the recruitment process.
  • How company processes encourage exploitation. Vested interests.
  • The economics of unethical recruitment.
  • The FSI model.
  • The business case for ethical recruitment.
  • How could the FSI model be replicated / taken to scale.