Modern Day Slavery - A Real Issue by Lucy Siers

Modern Day Slavery - A Real Issue by Lucy Siers

Modern day slavery is a crucial issue within the UK, yet it is not something everyone is aware of. It generates $150bn worldwide and an estimated 40m across the world are living in slavery.

Baroness Stroud for City A.M.  a daily newspaper aimed at London business commuters

Wednesday 20th of June marked World Refugee Day. Baroness Stroud, writing for City A.M., used this occasion to highlight the problem of modern day slavery and human trafficking that is happening in our own capital.  Stroud mentions that, according to the Home Office figures, there are currently 13,000 potential modern slaves working in London. The unsafe working conditions and unguaranteed pay makes these workers a victim of slavery.

Stroud links this issue of slavery to human trafficking. This takes effect on, in particular, vulnerable Eastern Europeans who have fallen victim to traffickers attempting to control their bank accounts with the threat of physical violence.

This news might be shocking to a Londoner who is unaware of these victims of slavery. Slavery is not just an archaic problem; one that we are all rightfully horrified with its links to a slave trade from Africa to the Caribbean, with the UK playing its own crucial part in its legacy. Today marks the 70th anniversary of Windrush, when the descendants of those slaves, themselves members of the British Empire were invited here at a cost of £28, equivalent to £1000 in today’s money, to rebuild the UK after the war. This article and the work being done by activists and Parliamentarians such as Baronesses Stroud and Young, highlight that this remains a current and worrying global issue.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015

This act required that businesses that had an annual turnover exceeding £36m had to publish an annual statement showing how they were tackling this major modern slavery problem. This was in an attempt to increase the transparency of businesses in an effort to diminish the abuse of vulnerable individuals within the supply chains. However, the progress in achieving what this act set out to do has proved slow.

The Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill 2017-19

In response to the limited impact of the 2015 act, there is a new bill that has currently passed its first reading in the House of Lords. Baroness Young of Hornsey introduced the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill 2017-19. It is a bill to make further provision for transparency in supply chains in respect of slavery and human trafficking.

The bill attempts to amend Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The bill would enforce the publication of a statement by all commercial organisations that fall within the Act. It would also require the statement to be easily accessible, furthering transparency within this area.

Brexit: tightening of domicile slavery laws

With Britain’s exit from the EU looming, it is vital that as a nation we tighten up our domicile laws around modern day slavery.

Our commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights does not waiver with our exit of the EU, but standing alone we must appear capable of protecting the most vulnerable in our society.

Cheap prices within the fashion industry must always be questioned. The cost that this apparent bargain may have to the lives of those involved in the production of that garment is a prominent issue within the industry.

Tamara Cincik, CEO of Fashion Roundtable, had this to say about her recent meeting with Baroness Young:

“The work that Baroness Lola Young is doing across Parliament and engaging with business and sports leaders to highlight the endemic issues of modern day slavery is invaluable. Baroness Young's Bill to make further provision for transparency in supply chains in respect of slavery and human trafficking, is as important for the fashion industry, as it is for food or sport. Baroness Young has worked with Anna Fitzpatrick from our team on the APPG for Sustainable Fashion and came to my first roundtable on Brexit in Westminster. It was great to meet with her this week and discuss our shared visions for sustainability and transparency across the sector and discuss the geopolitics of international development as well as local industrial issues, such as the Financial Times recent report on conditions and wages in some of Leicester's factories. The bottom line is, that is something is too cheap to be true, someone somewhere has not been paid properly. We have to engage across the whole industry and not simply focus on luxury as the only market where sustainability can take place."

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