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Comunicado de prensa

9 May 2024

New data reveals migrant worker abuse in global supply chains

Several well-known brands have repeatedly been linked to allegations of migrant worker abuse in just the first quarter of 2024. Between 1 January and 31 March 2024, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) recorded 135 allegations of human rights abuse against migrant workers globally, linked to 78 identifiable companies.

Most companies linked to repeat abuse were multinational technology companies. This included ‘gig’ workers for digital platform and social media companies facilitating exploitative migrant worker recruitment on their platforms.

These figures provide a concerning snapshot of how migrant workers continue to be mistreated – while companies fail to investigate or remedy the uncovered abuse.

BHRRC data from the first quarter of 2024 revealed:

  • Agriculture and fishing was the sector linked to the highest number of abuses (32 allegations), accounting for 24% of total abuse cases.
  • This was followed by abuse linked to or facilitated by technology (17 allegations), happening in hotels, restaurants & leisure facilities (16 allegations), by construction & engineering companies (14 allegations) and manufacturing facilities (13 allegations).
  • Of the 135 allegations recorded, 65 were linked to 78 identifiable companies. The remaining 70 cases were linked to companies whose names and headquarters were not reported in the source.
  • The companies most frequently linked to allegations of abuse were Uber Eats (three allegations), Coca-Cola, Deliveroo, YouTube, Meta, PepsiCo, TikTok and United Petroleum (two allegations each).
  • Companies linked to abuse were headquartered across 28 countries, more likely to be more economically developed countries, most commonly in the USA (21 cases). This was followed by the UK (eight cases), Saudi Arabia (eight cases), and Australia (six cases).
  • By contrast, migrant workers who spoke up about abuse were more frequently from less economically developed countries, including Bangladesh (16 cases), India (14 cases), the Philippines (14 cases) and Nepal (7 cases).

In 2023 BHRRC recorded more than 600 cases of abuse, linked to 389 named companies. The majority of identifiable companies linked to abuses were headquartered in North America and Europe, with USA, UK and Qatar-headquartered companies most frequently named. FIFA, Meta, Tesco and Ahold Delhaize/ Hannaford were the companies most frequently linked to cases of abuse.

Isobel Archer, Senior Migrant Rights Researcher, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said: “In 2023, our data revealed migrant workers endured illegal and exploitative recruitment fee-charging and debt, wage theft, employers taking advantage of precarious immigration statuses, as well as threats and physical abuse. We hoped this wouldn’t persist into 2024, but figures from the first quarter of the year are already raising concerns as companies continue business-as-usual, allowing abuse to go unchecked. It is high time businesses recognise the consequence of their inaction and lack of safeguards.”

“Migrant workers are often the invisible glue holding the global economy together. Yet, instead of being recognised for their value, migrant workers are subjected to a range of human rights abuses – often facilitated by government regulations and permitted to continue by multinationals at the top of supply chains, who are failing to monitor, investigate and remedy abuse sufficiently.

“Low-wage, temporary or undocumented workers are particularly vulnerable to labour rights abuse, while gender and nationality also shape the form and extent of abuse experienced by migrant workers. Companies must realise it’s simply not enough to publish general labour rights policies; they must recognise specific vulnerabilities and urgently respond to them by adopting tailored and migrant worker-centric risk assessment, due diligence and remedy processes.”

Region and sector-specific information, as well as data from 2023, is available upon request.

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Notes to editors: 

  • Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) is an international NGO that tracks the human rights impacts of companies across the globe.
  • BHRRC’s database contains information on allegations of migrant worker abuse across the globe, including breakdowns of the dataset by geography, sector or types of abuse reported by workers. Further information on our methodology can be found here.
  • In 2023, BHRRC published an analysis of 613 cases of alleged abuse reported by migrant workers around the world. Key findings, recommendations and analysis by sector, countries of origin and destination, and types of reported abuse can be found here.
  • Allegations linked to companies are displayed on companies’ pages on our website; companies can be searched for here.
  • Region and sector-specific information is available upon request.