Fashion brands sign agreement to tackle forced labour in the UK

John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, New Look, Next, River Island and Shop Direct have joined forces with law enforcement bodies to help eradicate modern slavery from the fashion industry.


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The fashion brands will work together with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and other institutions to root out criminality, Theresa May announced on Monday.

It follows the latest meeting of the Prime Minister’s Modern Slavery Taskforce, which was created to better identify and support victims of modern slavery.

“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,” the Prime Minister said.

With tens of thousands of people working for the UK fashion industry, the sector is particularly vulnerable to unscrupulous providers who exploit workers for their labour. Over 920 investigations are currently being carried out by police forces across the UK to uncover hidden slavery in businesses, involving over 2,000 victims.

“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,” Theresa May 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.”

Since 2015, large businesses and retailers are legally required to publish annual transparency statements detailing what they are doing to stop forced labour practices occurring in their business and supply chains.

The documents, known as Modern Slavery Statements, are published by companies with a turnover of more than £36 million.

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