Seen and Heard – Documenting the Plight of Modern Slaves in our Supply Chains

According to the charity Unseen, “Modern slavery is real. It is happening in our communities. An unseen crime, it hides in take-aways, hotels, car washes, nail bars and private homes.”

They also remind us that the estimated 13,000 slavery victims in the UK may be of any age, nationality or gender. However, “it is normally more prevalent amongst the most vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.”

A topic we have blogged about in depth, modern slavery in the UK is rife and present everywhere in our communities. As consumers, it’s our job to insist that the brands we buy our products from have fully risk-assessed supply chains and fair employment practices for all employees. We can choose where to spend our money, get involved with charities such as Unseen, and keep an eye out for suspicious activity in our daily lives.

But for retailers, the responsibility is even greater as there is a direct employment duty of care. If modern slavery is possible on the doorstep of consumers, for retailers it is possible under their roof.

The impetus is on making brands aware in the first instance of the risks within their supply chain, to take appropriate action. Part of this move towards transparency in our supply chains can be helped with tools such as our Worker Voice Assessment, Modern Slavery Assessment and free Modern Slavery Statement checklist*.

Next week we’ll begin a Worker Voice blog series, highlighting the stories of survivors of modern slavery and trafficking in the UK. Each week we’ll be putting the spotlight on a different case study of employee rights abuse in Britain, building to a picture of labour mistreatment in our supply chains today.

* If you are a UK company turning over more than £36m in revenue annually, you are asked to comply with Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act. A handy checklist to plan and compile your statement can be downloaded here.