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9 Mar 2016

Katie Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Firms show patchy compliance with UK anti-slavery requirements

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Britain may need to enforce better reporting of what companies are doing to erase slavery from their supply chains, after corporate statements show dozens of firms have not fully complied with landmark legislation, two pressure groups said...The law was passed a year ago, in response to growing alarm over revelations that slave labour is being used to produce everything from cotton T-shirts and cellphones to catfood for global consumption. Only 22 of the 75 statements collected so far were signed by a company director and available on the company's homepage - as required by the new law, according to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and CORE Coalition. The legislation also suggests six areas that companies should consider reporting on, including company policies and due diligence. But only nine firms met the minimum requirements and covered the six suggested areas, the groups found. Their research noted, however, that Intel and Ford - two of the biggest brands - had some of the most detailed statements."... there's far too many slave-like conditions in the products entering Britain," said Phil Bloomer, director of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, which has created a registry of statements to benchmark companies."(The Act) has sent out very powerful signals to companies around the world that they have to start looking at their supply chains and their own operations to make sure they're doing better. That's the good news," Bloomer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "The bad news is that the UK government Act has some significant weaknesses." The government should follow up with non-compliant companies and demand that firms provide more detailed statements on what they are doing to combat modern slavery, Bloomer said.