The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) report that more than 70 of the biggest names in the construction industry have now signed a landmark joint agreement aimed at eradicating modern slavery and labour exploitation from the sector’s supply chains.
The Construction Protocol, which was launched in October 2017, commits signatories to work in partnership with the GLAA to protect vulnerable and exploited workers. Companies also agree to the sharing of information to help stop or prevent exploitation and pledge to raise awareness of slavery through supply chains within the industry.
Over the last 16 months, a range of building firms and social enterprises have all committed to tackling modern slavery and labour exploitation. A further nine organisations have joined the protocol in the last month alone, taking the total number of signatories up to 78.
“Momentum is absolutely the key word here,” GLAA head of business change Samantha Ireland said. “Organisations who are signed up to the protocol are spreading the word about its importance and encouraging other businesses to work with the GLAA to root out illegitimate working practices. This partnership work is crucial in discovering the true extent of exploitation and ensuring that those criminals who exploit people for their labour are exposed and brought to justice.
“It’s also important to reflect on why the protocol matters so much,” she continued. “Construction has been highlighted by our intelligence team as a high risk sector for modern slavery and labour exploitation due to its complex supply chains. Around three million people are employed in construction, so it is one of the largest sectors in the labour market and therefore one where we can make a clear difference.”
While the GLAA’s enforcement and prevention work in construction is ongoing, the organisation have recently launched the Apparel and General Merchandise Public and Private Protocol (also known as the Textiles Protocol) formerly announced by the Prime Minister at the Modern Slavery Taskforce meeting last November.” This is similar in scope to the Construction Protocol,” explains Ireland, “and so far we have seen nationally-renowned high street retailers such as Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and New Look all work with us to disrupt exploitative practices in textile supply chains.”