New Zealand stalls anti-slavery bill -

New Zealand stalls anti-slavery bill

  • Published on
    April 26, 2023
  • Written by:
  • Category:
    Law & Policy
Hero Banner

Ten years ago in Dhaka, Bangladesh, garment makers were forced to go to work at the Rana Plaza factory, a structurally compromised building that later collapsed leaving more than 1,100 dead and thousands more injured. Workers were threatened with losing out on their pay or being fired from their jobs if they did not agree to work. This preventable disaster forced the world to reckon with the true cost of cheap clothes: the exploitation and lives of garment workers.

Slow progress in New Zealand

Rana Plaza lifted the veil on the dark reality of the clothing industry. Since then many countries have passed legislation in an attempt to address forced labor and modern slavery in clothing supply chains. But progress towards a modern slavery law in New Zealand has been slow with numerous setbacks.

Morgan Theakston, advocacy campaigns and communications manager for World Vision NZ, tells Stuff:


In a pursuit to make clothes that fly off shelves, companies engage in a race to the bottom for the cheapest price with no concern towards sustainability or the people toiling to make the clothes.


When we browse clothing racks in New Zealand’s malls or tap “add to cart” online, we still cannot be confident that those whose hands have painstakingly made the clothes we’re buying have not been forced into labour or robbed of their childhood.


Legislation pending

Though New Zealand has made some progress, delays and setbacks have prevented a modern slavery law from being passed.

The New Zealand government closed a consultation on an anti slavery law in April 2022 and promised to introduce the bill by the end of the year. This has yet to be done.

The proposed law would oblige companies to identify and address cases of forced labor in their supply chains. Additionally companies would need to make these cases public and these would then be recorded in a government registry.

Why not sooner?

Right now, there are millions of people all over the world being forced to work to produce goods that we use every single day. But we can help change this by requiring big business and governments to act. As it stands, many countries’ legislation to hold businesses accountable for forced labor doesn’t go far enough to protect workers. Effective modern slavery laws are essential, and so is mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation. This would require companies and governments to enact preventative measures, conduct robust risk analyses, and face punishments for failing to prevent all human rights violations—including human trafficking and forced labor—in their supply chains.

Sign the petition today!

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Migrant workers jailed in Qatar over demands for owed wages

Five months on from the World Cup final, migrant workers continue to report exploitative labor practices and mistreatment at the hands of Qatari authorities. Three former security guards have been jailed in Qatar for four months following their repeated requests for unpaid wages from their employer, Stark Security Services. Though lauded by FIFA as an opportunity to improve Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, workers who toiled to make the world’s

| Friday May 26, 2023

Read more