In collaboration with researchers in other disciplines, our intention is to expose the nature and extent of modern slavery.
CReMS approaches modern slavery as a social ill arising when employers systematically violate the rights of workers made vulnerable by their legal and social status, such as migrant labourers. This can be a consequence of strategic decision-making by domestic or internationalised firms. In collaboration with researchers in other disciplines, our intention is to expose the nature and extent of modern slavery to ensure it plays no further role in the global economy.
What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery comprises a continuum of practices ranging from labour exploitation through to forced labour and outright slavery at the extreme. It is a condition in which workers are kept in an abusive employment relationship, and is a profoundly offensive characteristic of the contemporary global economy. Modern slavery remains widespread, is present in both developed and developing nations, in multiple industries and sectors, and continues despite – or, perhaps, because – internationalised firms from liberal democracies playing a controlling role in the majority of global supply chains.
From the perspective of international business, modern slavery matters because decisions made by its practitioners, with respect to the location and control of production, distribution, and marketing, create incentives for employers to either respect or violate the rights of their workers. Beyond the market, corporations also play a largely uncharted role in developing labour standards, working alongside policymakers and enforcers at different governing levels to determine the duties of employers around the world.
In its response to modern slavery, New Zealand is falling behind countries like Australia and the UK, both at home and in the supply chains of businesses. Our research has challenged the Government to take the necessary steps to consider a modern slavery Act and further, to address why migrant worker exploitation has become embedded in certain industries.
Below are some videos documenting the extent of modern slavery worldwide:
- Australia: Slaving away
- Fighting Slavery From Space
- Malaysia's Migrant Money Trail
- Slaves of the Oceans
This newsletter from NZ Aotearoa Modern Slavery and Labour Exploitation Advisory Group has articles focusing on the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (July 30):
- Ray Ball Prize 2022: Stringer, C., Kartikasari, A., & Michailova, S. 2021. "They make a business out of desperate people": The role of recruitment agents in cross-border labour chains. Australian Journal of Management, 46(4): 672-689.
- Stringer, C. & Michailova, S. Why modern slavery thrives in multinational corporations' global value chains. Highly commended paper award, Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2019.
- Michailova, S. & Stringer, C. 2018. Modern slavery as an international business: An old institutionalism perspective. Best paper award, Australia New Zealand Academy of International Business annual conference, Brisbane, Australia.
- Collins, F.L. & Stringer, C. 2023. The trauma of exploitation: Emotional geographies of temporary migration and workplace unfreedom. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 55(2): 303-319.
- Yea, S., & Stringer, C. 2023. The informalisation of precarious work in fishing crew: Experiences of Fijian fishers on distant water vessels. Marine Policy, 155, 105709.
- Yea, S., Stringer, C. & Palmer, W. 2023. Funnels of unfreedom: Time-spaces of recruitment and (im)mobility in the trajectories of trafficked migrant fishers. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 113(1): 291-306.
- Burmester, B., Stringer, C., Michailova, S. & Harré, T. 2022. How modern slavery legislation might reimagine New Zealand companies’ supply chains. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations.
- Collins, F.L. & Stringer, C. 2022. Migration, discrimination and the pathway to workplace exploitation in Aotearoa New Zealand. In McCarthy, A. Narratives of Migrant and Refugee Discrimination in New Zealand. Taylor & Francis. p133-156.
- Michailova, S., Stringer, C. A., & Husted, A. 2022. Modern slavery in the diamond jewelry business: How can science combat it? Rutgers Business Review, 7(3): 274-288.
- Stringer, C., Burmester, B., & Michailova, S. 2022. Modern slavery and the governance of labor exploitation in the Thai fishing industry. Journal of Cleaner Production, 371, 133645.
- Stringer, C., Collins, F. & Michailova, S. 2022. Migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand: A qualitative study of migrants’ and stakeholders’ views. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations.
- Yea, S., Stringer, C. & Rao, S. Restorative justice in seafood slavery. Journal of Human Trafficking: 1-14.
- Stringer, C., Kartikasari, A., & Michailova, S. 2021. "They make a business out of desperate people": The role of recruitment agents in cross-border labour chains. Australian Journal of Management, 46(4): 672-689.
- Yea, S. & Stringer, C. 2021. Caught in a vicious cycle: connecting forced labour and environmental exploitation through a case study of Asia–Pacific. Marine Policy, 104825.
- Michailova, S. 2020. Is irresponsible business immune to COVID-19? The case of modern slavery. In COVID-19 and International Business (pp. 257-263). Routledge.
- Michailova, S., Stringer, C. & Mezias, J. 2020. Commentary and Introduction - Studying modern slavery: It is time for IB scholarship to contribute. AIB Insights, 20(2).
- Burmester, B., Michailova, S. & Stringer, C. 2019. Modern slavery and International Business scholarship: The governance nexus. critical perspectives on international business, 15(2/3): 139-157.
- Michailova, S. & Stringer, C. 2018. Tackling the ugliest phenomenon of our times, modern slavery: An invitation to the IB scholarly community. AIB Insights, 18(2): 7-10.
- Stringer, C. & Michailova, S. 2018. Why modern slavery thrives in multinational corporations' global value chains, Multinational Business Review, 26(3): 194-20
- Yea, S. & Stringer, C. 2023. Trafficked fishers accessing justice in Southeast Asia. ASEAN–Australia Counter Trafficking (ASEAN-ACT). https://www.aseanact.org/resources/trafficked-fishers-justice/
- Yea, S. & Stringer, C. 2021. A participatory action research project with victims of seafood slavery for effective counter-trafficking communication. Winrock International. Asia-CTIP-Valuing-Victims-Voices.pdf (winrock.org)
- Stringer, C., Burmester, B., Michailova, S. & Harré, T. 2021. Toward a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand - Legislative landscape and steps forward.
- Collins, F. & Stringer, C. 2019. Temporary migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, NZ.
- Stringer, C. & Michailova, S. 2019. The nature, extent, drivers and consequences of exploitation of temporary migrant workers: A comparison of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, NZ.
- Stringer, C. & Michailova, S. 2019. Addressing the exploitation of temporary migrant workers: Developments in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, NZ.
- Stringer, C. 2016. Worker exploitation in New Zealand: A troubling landscape.
Work in progress
CReMS is currently developing research projects relating to the impact of Covid-19 on temporary migrant workers, the exploitation of temporary migrant workers in New Zealand liquor retail, and the potential for a Modern Slavery Act for New Zealand.
Michailova, S., Stringer, C. & Burmester, B. The International Business of Modern Slavery, under contract with Cambridge University Press. Expected completion date: December 2023.