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08 December 2014

Evangelical Alliance calls for slavery free supply chains

Evangelical Alliance calls for slavery free supply chains

The Evangelical Alliance believes every person in forced labour is one too many, and there are currently 21 million people in forced labour around the world.

In the UK there are far more victims than previously thought. The Home Office recently reported that there are possibly between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery, including forced labour, in the UK.

This highlights a concerning and growing problem that must be tackled.

The government is taking positive steps towards addressing modern slavery with the Modern Slavery Bill. This bill provides a chance to improve the law to successfully tackle slavery and trafficking in the UK.

Victims and consumers are being let down by complex and unaccountable supply chains that use forced labour. While many businesses are returning significant profits, victims are being left to suffer and consumers are unable to make fair and informed choices.

There is growing public opinion that businesses should be acting ethically and taking action to ensure that forced labour doesn't occur in their supply chains.

Earlier in the year, the Evangelical Alliance joined with other organisations, including War on Want, Unseen, CAFOD and Core, to call the government to include supply chain management in the bill.

Requiring big businesses to publicly declare what action they are taking to make sure their supply chains are slavery-free will be a major step forward in preventing and reducing the use of forced labour - both in the UK and abroad.

While some businesses are already taking positive steps to address forced labour, not all are. 

The 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,130 workers, highlights the life-threatening conditions faced by garment supply chain workers in low-cost sourcing countries.

In some factories, there is a clear gap between industry codes and the real situation on the ground.

When the Modern Slavery Bill was first introduced, this requirement was not included. However the government has responded to calls and amended the bill to include accountability with supply chains. While this is a welcome amendment, it should be seen as a starting point.

The Telegraph published a joint letter which our General Director Steve Clifford signed called for a strengthening to supply chain management. Areas that need improvement include coverage, minimum requirements, reporting, monitoring and enforcement and review.

The UK has long been a leader on abolition, but in recent years a serious disservice to this proud legacy has been evident.

The Modern Slavery Bill provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle modern slavery in this country. The Evangelical Alliance believes it's crucial that the UK gets it right.