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National enforcement campaign launched to tackle worker exploitation

14 May 2018

An initiative led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) has been announced to address workers' human rights risks.

In addition to the two main bodies, the campaign also includes police forces and other agencies in the drive to address labour exploitation.

Concerns around this issue led to the launch of the Modern Slavery Act and NCA research has identified the construction sector as one of the most common areas for labour exploitation in the UK.

The issue has also seen the publication of the Construction and the Modern Slavery Act, tackling exploitation in the UK report by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

It criticises the industry's slow response to the act and highlights the issue of aggressive business models, identified as creating the environment where unethical procurement and recruitment practices are often seen.

These have led to "systemic auditing failures" which then allow the infiltration of criminal elements into major projects without detection, said the CIOB.

It identifies similar issues to those blamed for the demise of Carillion earlier this year, including lowest cost tendering, late payment and abuse of the retentions system.

Illegal practices such as blacklisting are also believed to be continuing, the CIOB stated, despite recent high profile court cases.

Similar to the FM industry, construction is deemed to have a long and fragmented supply chain, with little visibility beyond the first two tiers.

Heavy reliance on migrant labour contributed to the risk of worker exploitation, combined with complacency and disbelief about the issues increasingly seen, said the CIOB.

It further stated that incidents of modern slavery had been found on major UK infrastructure programmes, also including PFI hospital projects, power plants, recycling centres, renovation projects, demolition and local authority schemes.

A copy of the Construction and the Modern Slavery Act report can be downloaded here.

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