ILO reports: 236 billion USD in annual illegal profits from forced labour

A new International Labour Organization report, ‘unveils alarming figures: $236 billion in annual illegal profits from forced labour, marking a 37% rise since 2014. The report Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, reveals that in Europe the highest profits from forced labour are made.

This underscores the urgent need for action to protect vulnerable workers and dismantle the systems that perpetuate their exploitation. During the launch of the report on 19th March, speakers highlighted that more should be done to control malpractices including in private settings; to ensure workers can organise themselves and that recruitment channels are improved. During the Q & A, also the need for safe reporting for workers was strongly recommended, next to a decent system of support, as juridical procedures are very complicated and redress for workers often fails.

The report shared interesting figures regarding forced labour. It was found that forced commercial sexual exploitation accounts for more than two-thirds (73 percent) of the total illegal profits made. The sector with the highest annual illegal profits from forced labour is industry, at US$35 billion, followed by services (US$20.8 billion), agriculture (US$5.0 billion), and domestic work (US$2.6 billion). These numbers are shocking, as they are profits that would belong in the pockets of workers but remain in the hands of their exploiters. According to ILO estimates there are 27.6 million people engaged in forced labour.

The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator highlighted the increase of identified cases of trafficking for labour exploitation witin the EU, which now reached the same level as sexual exploitation and stated that the Commission is taking the issue very seriously.  She hoped that the recast of the THB Directive that strenghen sanctions in case of misconduct by companies and foresees the criminalisation of knowing use of services provided by forced labour, and the new EU law on due diligence and the forced labour ban will help to tackle the issue.

Read the new report here: