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Rise of robots fuels slavery threat for Asian factory workers

(Reuters) The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”, analysts said on Thursday.

Drastic job losses due to the growth of automation in the region – a hub for many manufacturing sectors from garments to vehicles – could produce a spike in labour abuses and slavery in global supply chains, said risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

More than half of workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines – at least 137 million people – risk losing their jobs to automation in the next two decades, the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) says.