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Countdown Welcomes Modern Slavery Legislation Proposals

8 April 2022: Countdown has welcomed the start of a public consultation on potential legislation that could change the lives of people working in modern slavery and exploitative conditions both locally and around the world.

The Modern Slavery and Worker Exploitation consultation document, released today by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, outlines a series of legislative proposals that would help reduce modern slavery and worker exploitation in Aotearoa and globally.

Countdown, which already reports under the Australian Modern Slavery Act as part of the wider Woolworths Group, has been part of the Modern Slavery Leadership Advisory Group which helped develop the proposals released today.

Countdown’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability Kiri Hannifin says the proposals are not only an important step towards delivering better outcomes for workers but also helping businesses understand and address their own supply chain human rights risks.

“Through our own experience with Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, we’ve been able to better understand our supply chain, identify any potential human rights risks and take action to address these. That’s why we’re immensely supportive of the outcomes these proposals are seeking to achieve, and why we’ve been involved in their development.

“We have seen examples of worker exploitation both in Aotearoa and globally, and worked with our suppliers to correct the issues uncovered. Only this week, we took action on an issue with one of our international suppliers and we are working through this with them. Worker exploitation is a very real issue. Without legislation and a requirement for businesses like ours to report on these types of issues, it’s likely that human rights abuses will continue to happen.

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“Aotearoa is a country that believes everyone deserves the opportunity to earn a fair and decent wage and safe working conditions. The proposed legislation will support businesses to ensure these rights are being upheld across their domestic and international supply chains,” Kiri says.

Today’s proposal comes as the Woolworths Group has been shortlisted among the top three businesses globally for a Thomson Reuters Foundation 2022 Stop Slavery Enterprise Award. Judged by a panel of international anti-slavery leaders and experts, the Enterprise Award identifies businesses that set a gold standard in their efforts to eradicate forced labour.

“Tackling an issue as significant as modern slavery will require the collective action of our business community. We’d encourage all businesses to engage with the submission process so that any proposed legislation is not only fit for purpose, but also becomes a powerful tool in addressing human rights abuses and ensuring all workers are paid a fair and decent wage and given safe working conditions,” Kiri says.

Kiwis can have their say by providing feedback through the survey at:

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