At school we were taught that, thanks to William Wilberforce, slavery in Britain was abolished in 1833. In fact only the slave trade was abolished and it comes as a bit of a shock, in the 21st century, to realise that slavery in one form or another has remained with us. Even here in the UK the incidence of people, often illegal immigrants, being forced to work for little or no pay is on the rise. That’s why we now have the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The construction industry, dependent as it is on temporary and often itinerant labour, can pose a particular risk of exploitation – especially in developing countries. And because of the increasingly international nature of the industry, even the most squeaky-clean UK contractor can unwittingly support the enslavement of workers further down the global supply chain without even stepping outside UK borders.
Thankfully, UK construction is not relying solely on legislation to keep its house in order. The CIOB has just published a major report on modern slavery and is spearheading initiatives to tackle the problem at source. We take a look at this and other initiatives on page 43 of this issue.
UK Construction Week
The TCI Top 100