Construction sector urged to address supply chain slavery

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has put the onus on the construction industry to address modern slavery in its supply chain. June 2, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
Construction sector urged to address supply chain slavery

The findings of the Global Slavery Index released yesterday (31 May) revealed that modern slavery now affects 48 million people worldwide, with the construction industry indentified as one of the sectors involved. “While the report cites the number of people affected in the UK at a relatively low 13,000, the figure doesn’t reflect the complex supply chains of most sectors, none more so than the construction sector,” said BRE’s Head of Responsible Sourcing Shamir Ghumra.

Labour exploitation amounting to modern slavery has been found across multiple sectors, including construction. These cases are incredibly diverse, impacting men, women, children, UK nationals, foreign workers and illegal immigrants.

A construction company could unknowingly support modern slavery in the UK or when using a supplier from abroad in its supply chain. For this reason, the BRE is developing a new standard to help the industry make ethical choices.

“BRE is currently developing a new standard – the Ethical Labour Standard – which will provide organisations with a framework to verify their systems and processes in relation to the Modern Slavery Act and continuously improve their ethical labour sourcing practices,” Ghumra.

“We have 120+ organisations who are helping us shape the standard and trial its use,” she added. “This is a testament to the willingness of our industry to do the right thing – these are organisations with complex international supply chains so the ability they have to affect real change on a global scale is significant.”

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