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Home Secretary backs labour exploitation protocol at GLA meeting

The Home Secretary Theresa May spoke at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) yesterday about her department’s work to crack down on worker exploitation in the food supply chain industry.

She was addressing a board meeting of the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority (GLA), on which the REC sits.

May attended the meeting to launch a new protocol between supermarkets, suppliers and the GLA to share information about labour exploitation.

The Home Secretary took to the floor to stress that the, & lsquo;Initiative is a vital step in tackling modern slavery’.

She stated, "If retailers could understand how to stop it, modern slavery would have nowhere to go.” She added that acting collaboratively was key to fighting the practise.

May spoke of her plans to try and consolidate trafficking offenses and ensuring slave drivers are prevented from returning to criminal acts after legal intervention, as well as ensuring frontline services know the signs to look out for.

She added that victim support would continue to be a priority and that the government were mindful of the continued problem of child slavery, confirming that the government would be working with key public sector agencies, involving social workers and foster carers in strategic planning.

She concluded, “Each step we take will eventually result in the eradication of slavery.”

Glyn Rankin and Alex Balch of Liverpool University presented a summary of EU project, & lsquo;Facilitating Corporate Social Responsibility in the field of Human Trafficking’ and the associated guidelines for supply chains being developed.

Rankin and Balch stated that companies did have CSR policies, but there is a lack of proper tools to tackle labour exploitation and a lack of consistency and coherence.

They stated that the agricultural and hotel sectors in particular were more open to labour exploitation due to the large numbers of seasonal workers working within them, alongside lack of supply chain transparency within all sectors.

The guidelines will aim to benefit people in charge of businesses of all sizes, taking into account risk assessment and devising a timeline of what businesses should be expected to do and by when and whether there are any markers that businesses can measure their progress in tackling unlawful labour practises.

Margeret McKinlay, chair of the GEC said she was pleased to see representatives of several supermarkets and suppliers at the briefing, confirming that the GLA is hoping to work with retailers and suppliers not covered by the GLA to establish how vulnerable workers can be protected.

After the meeting, the REC’s chief executive Kevin Green said, “The REC has a strong relationship with the GLA and the Home Office, and a shared commitment to eradicating worker exploitation from labour supply chains. We strongly support Theresa May’s plan for an anti-modern day slavery bill to address the infiltration of the UK’s labour market by criminal gangs and human traffickers.

“It’s important that regulators, employers and recruiters work collaboratively to create greater transparency and accountability within supply chains. The REC and our members recognise the key role that our industry plays in ensuring safe recruitment practices are maintained. We will soon be issuing guidance to our members to help them identify and report issues of exploitation so this criminal activity can be eradicated once and for all.”


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