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21 Mar 2021

Stewart Sowman-Lund, The Spinoff

Close to a hundred NZ companies sign letter calling for ‘modern slavery’ law

16 March 2021

Some of Aotearoa’s best known companies – including Barkers, Coca-Cola NZ, Countdown, Fix and Fogg, PWC and The Warehouse – have signed an open letter calling on the government to legislate against the use of slave labour.


The groups behind the open letter – Trade Aid, Walk Free and World Vision – said that New Zealand has no accountability legislation that addresses transparency in supply chains. “This means that New Zealand companies could unknowingly be importing products or services by which people are exploited and enslaved.”

According to The Warehouse Group, whose companies are all signatories of the letter, New Zealand is lagging behind other nations that have equivalent laws. “New Zealanders want to know that overseas workers who make their products are treated fairly,” said the company’s chief product officer Tania Benyon. “Introducing modern slavery legislation in New Zealand will encourage businesses to work collaboratively to raise standards and stamp out modern slavery from supply chains.”

The head of New Zealand coffee brand L’Affare, Paul Cockburn, agreed. “Our coffee passes through many hands before it reaches us so transparency between us and the producers in coffee-growing countries worldwide is important to us,” he said. “The L’affare brand (and the people behind L’affare) align with those of many NZ coffee businesses, in support of values-based business and in support of the meaningful measures this open letter speaks to.”

The Labour government has commented on the issue of modern slavery before, pledging prior to the last election to investigate “the implementation of modern slavery legislation in New Zealand to eliminate exploitation in supply chains”. ...