Aug 26, 2020
In Episode 8 of Series 5 Todd is joined by Siddharth Kara and Hannah Lerigo-Stephens. Siddharth is an author, researcher, screenwriter and activist on modern slavery who has spent many years investigating the issue of forced labour in cobalt mining areas in the Congo. He recently supported 14 families in the Congo to launch a landmark legal case against Apple, Microsoft, Del, Google and Tesla for what they consider to be their complicity in the injuries and deaths of their children. Hannah has worked with leading food retailers like the Co-op and Morrissons to improve labour standards in their global supply chains and now leads the Rights Lab’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the University of Nottingham, where she translates research evidence into resources for businesses and organisations looking to work ethically and sustainably.
Todd begins by asking Siddharth to give an overview of his work. Siddharth has worked in over 50 countries collecting evidence and documenting the lives of workers atthe bottom of the supply chain and the conditions under which they work. He explains that:
04.35 – 07.30
Siddharth references a small area in South East DR Congo where cobalt mining takes place. He says that:
07.30 – 09.55
Todd asks Siddharth to describe how remote sensing technology developed by the Rights Lab (Slavery from Space) has been used.
09.55 – 14.48
Hannah’s contribution starts with a rejection of the argument that labour exploitation is the result of the complexity of modern supply chains. She says:
14.48 – 18.35
Todd moves on to ask about how a redistribution of income could be achieved. In Siddharth’s view contemporary capitalism works in an unequal way. He believes that:
Siddharth concludes by arguing that the major transnational companies must take responsibility for their supply chains.
18.35 – 21.18
Todd brings in Hannah to review the impact of current legislation on modern slavery.
She refers to the UK Modern Slavery Act and its requirements. She argues that the focus is on reporting, but there are loopholes in the wording and language is not strong enough. There is a need for target setting and evaluation within companies.
21.18 - 25.00
Siddharth refers to an article for the Guardian newspaper as a result of his experiences in DR Congo and describes in detail strategic litigation against Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell, and Tesla to force them to take accountability for conditions in their supply chais. The aims of this he says are:
25.00 – end
Hannah emphasises the importance of holding major companies to account, and for greater reflection and evaluation of practices. She sets out the business case for having better knowledge of supply chains, and says lack of knowledge is a weakness.
Siddharth concludes by arguing that the status quo whereby the global north continues to enrich itself by using its political and economic power to exploit the global south needs to change.
Diffusion of labour standards through supplier–subcontractor network Stefan Gold, Thomas Chesney, Tim Gruchmann , Alexander Trautrims