Modern Slavery in the Construction Industry

It is estimated that today there are in the region of 40.31 million people around the globe that are victims of modern slavery. The Global Slavery Index estimates that there are around 136,000 people living in modern slavery in the UK – a rate of 2.1 victims for every thousand people in our country. Slavery is a term used to describe a situation where a person is effectively ‘owned’ and exploited by others who control where they live and force them to work for little or no pay.

In 2015 the UK government introduced the Modern Slavery Act which consolidated previous legislation in this area focusing on the prevention and prosecution of modern slavery and the protection of victims. It also sought to invoke transparency in supply chains by requiring all businesses with a global turnover of £36m or more which supply goods or services in the UK to publish an annual slavery and trafficking statement. Willmott Dixon’s statement is available here.

In 2016 Willmott Dixon established a working party to focus on the risks presented by modern slavery to our Group and our supply chain. Over the last 2 years, our MSA Working Party has been instrumental in developing and implementing processes and procedures to tackle modern slavery and forced labour practices within our supply chain and it continues to progress further initiatives.

1 The Global Slavery Index 2018

Stronger Together

As a major contractor within the construction industry, we take our responsibility for tackling modern slavery and improving the construction sector’s reputation seriously. We acknowledge the need to take a collaborative approach with our industry peers and in 2017 we became one of the founding project sponsors of a joint CIOB and Stronger Together multi-stakeholder initiative which aims to reduce modern slavery, particularly hidden forced labour, labour trafficking and other hidden third party exploitation of workers.

We have been working alongside Stronger Together and their partner, CIOB, as a programme sponsor to drive forward industry change. The programme is a specialist, in-depth industry initiative supporting construction companies in tackling modern slavery, providing a safe platform and support network for sharing challenges and good practice with peers and experts.

In this programme, businesses across the supply chain are supported in taking action to mitigate modern slavery within their own operations, with their sub-contractors and suppliers, their labour providers, their service providers and beyond. This is achieved through straight-forward free to download resources providing practical guidance available for construction businesses of any size to use, including an industry specific toolkit, multi-language information posters and leaflet for workers and an awareness raising video for use in staff inductions and trainings. As well as, industry specific training workshops which inform and equip attendees to understand the risks of modern slavery in the construction industry, how to spot and respond appropriately to potential victims and how to help their business to deter, detect and deal with modern slavery. More information can be found here:

Below is a powerful short film based on a true story that highlights the importance of site managers and others in the industry knowing how to spot and respond appropriately to potential incidents and victims of modern slavery.

Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority – Construction Protocol

In 2017 Willmott Dixon also signed up to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority’s Construction Protocol which is a joint agreement aimed at establishing collaboration within the construction industry. The Protocol commits signatories to work in partnership to protect vulnerable workers, share information to help stop or prevent exploitation and commit to raising awareness within the supply chain.