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

Author: Felicity Lawrence, Guardian (UK), Published on: 9 August 2017

"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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Related companies: Sports Direct