Slaves

She hesitated before hitting send. There was no way back and doing so could mean losing the few influential friends she had. It would make finding another job impossible and there was no guarantee that anyone would even  read it, let alone believe it. the chances of anyone acting were tiny.

There was still a chance though. This wasn’t about her, so she grit her teeth and clicked.

Maria lent back in her chair. It felt good to get it out there. Now all she had to do was wait for a response.

**********

Marcus Treadwell helped himself to a third mug of filter coffee. It was only half eleven, but he was shattered. He’d been in back to back meetings all day dealing with difficult customers.

Marcus was an employee of Simultron International, an wholesaler of automaton helpers. Their slogan was “Making work painless” and Marcus was a salesman. He worked on commission and today they were trying to cut a deal with McDonalds. The robots wouldn’t work out front of course, but they would be used to cook and clean in the kitchens.

There were five minutes to go before Marcus had to be in his next board room discussion so he decided to check his emails. He unpocketed his iPhone and found he had three new messages. One was a meeting request from his staff manager to discuss his possible promotion, which he marked as unread to deal with later. He had to focus and if he got this contract then a pay rise would be in the bag.

The second email was from a name he thought was familiar but couldn’t place. Maria Gibb was not an employee here, but that was clear from the email. It had just one sentence; Puppets not robots. Below that was an image, that was still loading. Slowly, it revealed a photograph of an eight year old Vietnamese boy wired up to a cybernetic suit.

Marcus scrolled down to see if this was a joke, but all he found was more pictures. Close ups showed the state of the poor child; tired battered and desperate for a break. He saw the company logo on the equipment.

He noticed there was an attachment as well, called Contract.doc. He started to download the file but was interrupted.

“Marcus, come on.” His boss was calling him in to the meeting. Marcus put away his phone, he’d deal with it later.

Marcus couldn’t let it go though. “Could it be true?” he thought to himself, where there children being forced to work these robots? If so, what could he do about it? He couldn’t take down a corporation this large. On the other hand, could he sell their products if there was even a chance these photos were legit?

Marcus didn’t have to worry though, as the email had already reached their clients who had stormed out. He went and joined the queue of people giving their week’s notice to HR.

——————————————————————————————————

Today is Anti Slavery day, the one day that the government has legislated to raise awareness of the real issue of trafficking. Unlike that story, it is a real issue and one that is happening all over the world. A report published yesterday shows the estimated number of people in slavery at 29.8 million.

There is a real chance that items we buy have been produced by slaves. No company would want this, but ensuring your whole supply chain is free from it is not always easy to check. This website lists some of the known products that have been produced by forced labour.

Anti-slavery day was brought in by law to raise awareness of this issue.  So, do some research into the issue, contact your MP or try to go fairtrade. I will be donating my day’s wage to an anti-slavery organisation and trying to raise awareness via facebook, twitter and this blog.

In that story, Maria is the real hero. She did something against the slavers, whereas Marcus just left them alone. What are you going to do?

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