As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, it impacted economies and jobs around the world, with extensive implications for the many migrant workers without income. Migrant workers frequently fall victim to labor trafficking, paying large fees for jobs and having their passports confiscated. In the pandemic, they were left without the money or documents to travel home and with outstanding debts to the people they paid for their jobs. As part of its focus on human rights and fair treatment of workers, Mercy Investment Services is advocating on this issue from several perspectives:
- Mercy joined a group of institutional investors with more than $3 trillion in assets under management requesting details from 54 companies, including leading multinational brands with business operations in the Gulf nations, about their approach to safeguarding migrant workers which make up around 50% of the population in the Gulf nations and, in some, up to 90% of the workforce.
- In China, the Government of the People’s Republic of China has detained more than one million Uyghur and Turkic minorities located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and has forced many of them to work in cotton fields, spinning mills, and textile factories, and PPE factories. Mercy has brought this discussion to several ongoing engagements and joined other shareholders in a Call to Action.
- Apparel and retail companies have been engaged concerning unfair dismissals of garment workers, as the Business and Human Rights Resource Center reports more than 4,870 unionized garment workers have been targeted for dismissal by nine factories supplying for major fashion brands. Mercy’s discussions with these companies call for prioritizing worker health and safety.
Mercy Investment Services will continue to raise this issue in company dialogues, engage through sign-on letters, and call for industry sector-wide reform.