Addressing Exploitation in Supply Chains: Is technology a game changer for worker voice?


  • Dr Laurie Berg
  • Bassina Farbenblum
  • Angela Kintominas



supply chain, labour exploitation, modern slavery, technology, worker voice, migrant worker


Multinational businesses are facing mounting pressure to identify and address risks of exploitation, trafficking and modern slavery in their supply chains. Digital worker reporting tools present unprecedented opportunities for lead firms to reach out directly to hard-to-reach workers for feedback on their working conditions via their mobile phone. These new technologies promise an efficient and cost-effective way to cut through the complexity of global production, gathering unmediated data on working conditions directly from workers at scale. As the market for these tools grows, this paper contextualises their emergence within the broader political economy of supply chain governance. It presents three sets of concerns about their use that must be addressed by businesses, investors, donors and governments that develop or utilise these tools. First, the quality of data gathered by these tools may be inadequate to reliably inform decision-making. Second, global brands may gather large quantities of worker data to identify legal, reputational and financial risks without addressing structural causes of exploitation or delivering outcomes for workers. Third, large scale collection of data from workers creates new risks for workers’ wellbeing and safety.


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Author Biographies

Dr Laurie Berg

Dr Laurie Berg is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney. She is the author of the first book on migrant workers’ rights in Australia, Migrant Rights at Work: Law’s precariousness at the intersection of immigration and labour (Routledge, 2016). With Bassina Farbenblum, she led the first national survey on wage theft of temporary migrant workers in Australia. Laurie and Bassina are co-directors of the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative which engages in rigorous empirical research to catalyse improved enforcement of rights and just remedies for migrant workers globally.

Bassina Farbenblum

Bassina Farbenblum is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales where she is the founding Director of the UNSW Human Rights Clinic. Bassina also leads the Migrant Worker Stream Leader in the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation. Funded by the Open Society Foundations, Bassina led the first large-scale empirical study of migrant workers’ access to justice in countries of origin. She works closely with government and civil society partners in Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia to improve migrant workers’ access to justice and governance of migrant recruitment.

Angela Kintominas

Angela Kintominas is a Scientia PhD Scholar at the University of New South Wales and Teaching Fellow at UNSW Law. As a feminist legal researcher, Angela’s interests are in the intersections of gender, migration and work. She is a Research Associate with the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative and the Social Policy Research Centre.




How to Cite

Berg, L., Farbenblum, B., & Kintominas, A. (2020). Addressing Exploitation in Supply Chains: Is technology a game changer for worker voice?. Anti-Trafficking Review, (14), 47–66.