UK: Convictions of criminal groups for slavery offences reveal extent of modern-day slave trade

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15 August 2017

UK: Anti-slavery watchdog finds evidence suggesting thousands of car wash workers are victims of modern slavery

Author: Martin Bagot, Mirror

Thousands of workers in hand car washes are thought to be victims of modern slavery, paid little or nothing for an 11-hour shift and forced to live in squalid accommodation. Many are trafficked into the UK on the promise of paid work before becoming trapped in debt bondage, owing money to their bosses which they stand no chance of ever repaying. Mirror investigators working with the anti-slavery watchdog found evidence to suggest thousands of mainly Eastern European people could be trapped working on forecourts and car parks. Unable to speak English, they can work for up to 11 hours a day for little or no pay, and when their shift is done go “home” to makeshift accommodation, made from shipping containers.

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9 August 2017

UK: Criminal groups supplying Sports Direct & major supermarkets convicted of modern slavery over exploitation of Polish migrant workers

Author: Felicity Lawrence, Guardian (UK)

"How Big Brands Including Sports Direct Unwittingly Used Slave Labour," 8 Aug 2017

Sports Direct has been named in three separate modern slavery trials in Nottinghamshire courts within six months this year, all relating to Polish migrants sent to work through recruitment agencies at the corporation’s warehouse in Shirebrook. The courts convicted members of three separate criminal groups for modern slavery, after hearing that they had sent migrants to work through agencies that supplied labour to the headquarters of the sportswear company. Some migrants were also sent through an agency to work for a leading vegetable producer, which supplies – directly or indirectly – nearly all the UK’s major supermarkets. Although neither the companies nor the agencies were accused of any wrongdoing, the three trials have revealed how the modern-day slave trade has taken root in the UK economy, as big-brand companies have become unwitting users of slave labour. The cases also reveal the pre-conditions necessary for slavery to flourish in modern Britain: first, a supply of vulnerable people; second, labour outsourcing that diffuses responsibilities; and third, communities that fail to recognise the circumstances in which their neighbours are living... A spokesperson for Sports Direct said modern slavery was “often deeply hidden” and hard to detect... [adding that] "[w]e are proactive in reporting anything suspicious to police in order to send a strong message that we will not tolerate these abuses.” [also refers to Hammond Produce]

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