Reported cases of slavery on the rise in the UK Reported cases of slavery on the rise in the UK

Reported cases of slavery on the rise in the UK
17 May 2018

Reported cases of slavery in the UK have jumped 35% year-on-year, according to a devastating new report.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) found that a number of recruitment and employment agencies were hiring workers who had their wages docked and had to pay 'protection money' to stay in employment. Many also faced verbal and physical abuse, long hours, unpaid work and dangerous conditions, according to HR Grapevine.

The industries most likely to mistreat people included construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes. But the report also highlighted labour abuse and evidence of slavery in the agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse, distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work and social care sectors.

Ian Waterfield, the GLAA’s operations director, said: "It’s not until now that we’ve had the ability to look, but it’s a case of the more you look, the more you find."

The study indicated that types of labour abuse vary. Debt bondage was common – where migrants become indebted to recruitment and employment agencies for travel or illegal work-finding fees. Bogus self-employment contracts are also regularly used to disguise mistreatment, with intelligence suggesting this situation is a growing problem in sectors such as cleaning, construction and flower picking.

Zero-hours contracts are also linked to problems, with many workers effectively acting as permanent staff yet not being afforded the secure contracts that full-time employees enjoy.

But one of the most high-profile cases of modern slavery involved a Sports Direct warehouse, where two workers were found to have been trafficked into England and employed via an agency at Sports Direct’s depot. They had access to only £20 (US$27) to £30 (US$41) of their weekly earnings. The exploitation came to light after managers reported abuses to the GLAA and the police authorities.

Under the UK’s 2016 Immigration act, the GLAA has been given the authority to investigate employment abuses across all sectors, an expansion of previous powers which meant it was confined to tackling mistreatment in the agriculture, food and shellfish industries.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

 

 

 

Reported cases of slavery in the UK have jumped 35% year-on-year, according to a devastating new report.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) found that a number of recruitment and employment agencies were hiring workers who had their wages docked and had to pay 'protection money' to stay in employment. Many also faced verbal and physical abuse, long hours, unpaid work and dangerous conditions, according to HR Grapevine.

The industries most likely to mistreat people included construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes. But the report also highlighted labour abuse and evidence of slavery in the agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse, distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work and social care sectors.

Ian Waterfield, the GLAA’s operations director, said: "It’s not until now that we’ve had the ability to look, but it’s a case of the more you look, the more you find."

The study indicated that types of labour abuse vary. Debt bondage was common – where migrants become indebted to recruitment and employment agencies for travel or illegal work-finding fees. Bogus self-employment contracts are also regularly used to disguise mistreatment, with intelligence suggesting this situation is a growing problem in sectors such as cleaning, construction and flower picking.

Zero-hours contracts are also linked to problems, with many workers effectively acting as permanent staff yet not being afforded the secure contracts that full-time employees enjoy.

But one of the most high-profile cases of modern slavery involved a Sports Direct warehouse, where two workers were found to have been trafficked into England and employed via an agency at Sports Direct’s depot. They had access to only £20 (US$27) to £30 (US$41) of their weekly earnings. The exploitation came to light after managers reported abuses to the GLAA and the police authorities.

Under the UK’s 2016 Immigration act, the GLAA has been given the authority to investigate employment abuses across all sectors, an expansion of previous powers which meant it was confined to tackling mistreatment in the agriculture, food and shellfish industries.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

 

 

 

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