Modern slavery in the construction industry

  • 7 Sep 2016

howardchapmanHoward Chapman, Buildingtalk Editor, reviews the new report from LexisNexis BIS called Hidden in Plain Site – Modern Slavery in the Construction Industry that shows there is widespread slavery in the global construction industry with inadequate measures in place to prevent this exploitation.

Recently Theresa May, the new UK Prime Minister, pledged to spend £33 million on global initiatives to tackle modern slavery, which she described as “the great human rights issue of our time”.

A new report from LexisNexis BIS called Hidden in Plain Site – Modern Slavery in the Construction Industry shows how widespread slavery is in the global construction industry and the measures to prevent this are woefully inadequate.

Mark Dunn, director at LexisNexis Business Insights Solutions: “Our report shows that there is a strong risk of forced labour taking place in the construction industry and its supply chains. Given that the construction industry employs an estimated 7% of the global workforce, this means countless thousands of workers are leading lives of misery and injustice. Forced labour needs to move up the global agenda. A wide range of stakeholders – international bodies, governments and the public sector, industry organisations, construction companies, investors, the media and civil society – have roles to play in preventing and avoiding collusion in worker exploitation in the construction industry”.

Case studies in the report include allegations of forced labour being used to build World Cup 2022 stadiums in Qatar – more on this here.

Slavery in UK

There are 10,000 – 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK according to estimates from the Home Office in 2014 and the government introduced UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 to help reduce this.

Slavery in construction industry

Recent reports* say between 20 and 45 million people are trapped in modern slavery. Construction industry employs 7% of the world’s workforce. The report estimates that £25 billion profit is made in the construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities industries using forced labour. In a recent EU report, the construction industry was ranked second on the list of economic sectors most prone to labour exploitation with 9 countries reporting construction the most problematic industry.

The LexisNexis BIS report says modern slavery in the construction industry is a problem that is ‘Hidden in plain sight’ and calls on all of us, not just governments, businesses and the media, to help combat the problem.

Fullscreen capture 07092016 100508Download the Modern Slavery Short Guide.

Download the full Modern Slavery in the Construction Industry Report.

* International Labour Organization estimated more than 20 million people are in forced labour globally in 2012 and the Walk Free Foundation 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates 45 million.

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