Labour and Services
Exploitation is rife in the service industry. “Its victims are bound to toil for little or no pay, are forced to engage in exploitative work. Its impact is global, and no country is immune. Modern slavery is a human rights abuse of our own making. Ending it is a choice the world can make.” [Global Slavery Index]
Victims of modern slavery do not have a specific profile; they can be of any age, race or gender. However, minority or socially excluded groups seem particularly vulnerable to exploitation (Unseen).
Forced labour is a type of modern slavery.
Victims are often forced to remain exploited through the use of violence and intimidation, debt bondage, threat of exposure to immigration authorities and the retention of identity documents. Victims are often trapped in helpless situations where daily they experience violence and psychological abuse. In addition, as workers they do not receive adequate training or the necessary protective equipment to remain safe in their jobs. Forced labour occurs in many service industries including car washes, beauty salons, care services, construction, hospitality, agriculture, cannabis farms and manufacturing. In 2018, of the 6,993 referrals received by the National Crime Agency in the UK, labour exploitation was the most common form of potential slavery.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Be conscious of using services that seem too cheap. The reality is that low cost services are often only possible because someone is paying an horrific price to provide them.
Be aware and learn how to spot the signs of potential exploitation when using services:
Are workers wearing appropriate protective equipment to carry out their work?
Does the cost seem too low?
Is payment by cash only? Do the workers become distressed when directly handling money?
Do they live on site? If not, are the workers being picked up and dropped off in a group at the start and end of their shift?
Do the workers work excessively long hours?
Do you notice the presence of an intimidating manager? Do the workers appear fearful of them? Do the workers appear unkempt and dishevelled?
Do workers have very limited English?
Check out the validity of any certificates of achievement in beauty salons. If they can’t speak English it is highly unlikely that they will have passed any UK based training.
Seeing one of the above signs is not a clear indication that someone is being exploited, but should be a reason to be suspicious. If you spot several of these signs, there is a higher chance that the person is being controlled, exploited or trafficked and you should consider reporting your concerns in the following way:
When you report, the concerns you have will be recorded, investigated further and may add to information that already exists about potential exploitation or slavery.
Download the Safe Car Wash App. This is a tool that enables community intelligence gathering. Simply open the app and complete a short survey about working conditions of any hand car washes you use. Based on the survey, if there is a high likelihood that slavery is occurring, you will be asked to report your concerns. The data that the app gathers will be anonymised and passed on to the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
TraffickCam is an app which enables you to help combat sex trafficking by uploading photos of the hotel rooms you stay in. Traffickers regularly post photos of their victims posed in hotel rooms for online adverts. The purpose of TraffickCam is to create a database of hotel room images that an investigator can efficiently search in order to find other images that were taken in the same location. These photos are evidence that can be used to find and prosecute the criminals. It is easy to use, just take a photo before you settle in and upload to the app.
[Source: "Life with the Roof Down" blog]