Leading UK fashion brands have teamed up with law enforcement bodies to help combat modern slavery in the textiles industry.
Marks and Spencer, New Look, Next, River Island and John Lewis have signed the agreement and will work closely alongside the likes of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the Immigration Enforcement to help bring an end to the growing epidemic.
The news is in light of Prime Minister Theresa May‘s latest meeting with the Modern Slavery Taskforce where attendees discussed ways in which to tackle forced labour in UK business supply chains.
According to Gov.uk, modern slavery police operations are at an all-time high. The British fashion industry is run by tens of thousands of workers which in turn, makes companies more vulnerable to criminals who exploit employees for their labour.
In September alone, police forces across the UK ran more than 920 investigations into modern slavery cases – with over 2,000 victims involved.
On the new agreement, Theresa May announced in a statement: “Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime that denies its victims of liberty, and it is disturbing to think that some of the products we buy could have been produced by someone exploited into forced labour.”
“As global leaders in the fight against modern slavery, I am clear that this will not be tolerated in the UK – and our consumers won’t stand for it either,” she continued.
“I welcome the action being taken by businesses which are leading the way in being open and transparent about the modern slavery risks they face, and have pledged to raise awareness to prevent slavery, protect vulnerable workers and help bring more criminals to justice.”
Currently, UK companies with a turnover of more than £36 million are legally required to publish annual Modern Slavery Statements. These are designed to give transparency on what brands are doing to combat modern slavery from functioning in their supply chains.
Hopefully, the UK government’s latest initiative will help to reduce the number of cases by bringing more awareness to the growing issue.
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