Labor exploitation

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Although the term “trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labor exploitation” is the most widely used term, the specialized labor agency of the United Nations   on labor standards in its entire history has never defined the term labor exploitation. Probably all of their 189 conventions and almost 100 years of their legal interpretation are in fact a continuous attempt to define what constitutes labor exploitation, interpretation and notion that really requires constant revision and updating to respond to the changing reality.

In practice, it is difficult to draw a clear line and separation of exploitation as a violation of labor rights from forced labor or trafficking in human beings. In some European countries, a narrow definition is used while in other concepts of trafficking in human beings for labor exploitation is wider. This problem obstructs identification in practice and creates legal uncertainty for workers.

To overcome these problems, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has created a set of indicators to identify forced labor in practice as the ultimate result of the trafficking process. Later, in cooperation with the European Commission, they were further refined in a European context, often referred to as the Delphi Method.

The combination of indicators is the likelihood of forced labor and trafficking. Indicators include debt slavery, retention of documents for identification, retention and non-payment of wages, fraud or false promises, financial penalties, threats of forcible removal and restrictions on freedom of movement.

The indicators illustrate the reasoning behind the argument that trafficking in human beings and forced labor should be viewed together as a continuum of labor exploitation ranging from decent work to forced labor. Also see protection from all forms of exploitation together as a con- tinium as a way to break the process leading to forced labor and preventing future abuses. Trade for labor exploitation can not be seen nor accessed as an isolated problem, as it represents a set of serious violations of human rights.

Regarding Basic Labor Standards, workers in forced labor suffer from discrimination, their residence status may affect the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and in some cases they may even be juveniles. Other violations of rights include non-payment or late payment of salaries, wages that are below the minimum guaranteed salary, health injuries and safety regulations, social rights, security, etc. All of these elements are different aspects of trafficking in human beings for labor exploitation. The forced labor should also be seen more as a process than just a static connection.

Workers do not become forced workers overnight, but gradually increases their coercion. For example, the vulnerability of migrants often increases over time as they are under pressure to pay off debts, or if they are subject to immigration control and extortion from criminal networks. In addition, employers often “test” the resistance of workers before pressing them in more extreme exploitative situations. One could think of this process as a constant narrowing of a maze where the decision-maker’s power is ultimately lost.

Many immigrants are being deceived by false promises of employment abroad by intermediaries, agencies, or informal or criminal networks. In order to pay the remuneration for employment, they are forced to take on a family loan, friends, their agents (intermediaries) or a future employer. Upon arriving, after refusing unrealistically increased food, housing and other basic necessities, the rest of the salary is not enough to save money, repay the debt, or send home as many have planned to do from the start .

These practices (of debt slavery) are held by migrants bound to their employers forcing them to do the same work and under the same substandard conditions. Workers who end up in forced labor are not necessarily unordered or undeclared workers. Many enter the country legally with a work permit or are citizens from the very beginning. The fact that workers are trafficked into forced labor in our economic sectors inevitably imposes a debate on the unregulated global labor market and the current state of protection of workers’ rights.The deregulation of labor markets and the reduction of social protection as a strategy for increasing competitiveness in the global economy has a deforming influence on the labor relation. This trend of persistent employment, informalization and individualisation of labor and employment has created an environment that now seems to be fertile ground for all types of abuse, including extreme situations of forced labor and trafficking.


Slavery under the UN Conventions is defined as: “the status or condition of a person subject to any or all of the powers associated with the right to property”. Slavery is much more than forced labor. All slavery involve forced labor, but not all cases of forced labor involve slavery. The international ban on slavery is absolute, there are no exceptions (as they exist for forced labor).

Slavery is an institution in which the master of slaves uses his property rights by destroying a human person, that is, the person as the holder of rights, and reduces the robot to the subject without right. Slavery is considered a complete system of ownership.

For more information-slavery.

Debt bondage (or slave job)

The additional UN Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, Slave Trade and Slavery-like institutions and practices include debt slavery as a slavery-like practice. Debt slavery, as it is said, is a status or condition arising from the pledge of the debtor to his personal services or to those of the person under his control as a debt security, if the value of those services, if reasonably estimated, is not used for the liquidation of the debt, or the length and nature of those services are not adequately limited and “defined” (Additional UN Convention, Art. 1)

For more information – Debt bondage

Forced work

The International Instrument for the Elimination of Forced Labor is within the framework of the ILO, which is a specialized UN agency. [1] There is no separate UN Convention on Forced Labor, but the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights prohibits most forms of “forced labor”. [2] ILO Convention on Forced Labor No. 29 contains the following definition: Forced or compulsory labor is any work or service that is imposed by any person under the threat of any penalty and for which it has not been offered voluntarily. [3] The means of punishment includes threats of physical violence against worker or relatives, physical detention and denial of rights [4]. The ban on forced labor in the Convention is not absolute (since the prohibition of slavery is absolute), since certain forms of forced labor for (a) military service are permitted, (b) when it is part of the “normal civil obligations of citizens , “(C) a conviction for carrying out a work for a public authority, (d) where necessary in” emergency cases “and (d)” minor communal services “by members of the community for the community (ILO Convention no. 29, Article 2.2). Later, the ILO Convention also prohibits the use of forced labor for political and economic purposes or as a means of labor discipline or punishment.

[5] It is important to note that, however, the two conventions do not prohibit the use of the labor of prisoners; they only set limits on its use. Historically, governments have used forced labor for public projects such as road construction and so on.

For more information-Forced work.

[1] The ILO was founded in 1919, in anticipation of a destructive war to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal lasting peace can only be achieved if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized UN agency in 1946. [2] (ICCPR, Article 8.3). [3] For the legal meaning of forced labor, see ILO 2009 (b). [4] (ILO 2005, 5). [5] (ILO Convention No. 105, Art. 1). [1] (Slavery UN Convention, Article 1 (1).) [1] Furthermore, the abbreviation UN shall be used in the text [2] ILO / European Commission (2009): Operational indicators of THB; Results from a Delphi survey implemented by the ILO and the European Commission. Geneva: ILO [3] Skrivankova K., 2011 Between decent work and forced labor: examining the continuum of exploitation, JRF program paper: Forced Labor, November 2011 [4] ILO Core Labor Standards: 1949 . 98, 1930 Forced Labor Convention No. 29, 1957 Abolition of Forced Labor Convention No. 105, 1951 Equal Remuneration Convention No. 100, [5] B. Andrees, Forced Labor and Trafficking in Europe: How People Are Trapped in, Working Through and Out (Working paper ILO, Geneva, 2008) p. 22.