Government must act on supply chain abuses

CORE and 15 other NGOs, unions, investors and multi-stakeholder organisations have signed a joint statement asking the Government to take tough action to ensure companies make serious efforts to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains.

This responds to the Government-commissioned Independent Review into the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. The Review, conducted by Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss and published on 22 May, contains extensive recommendations to improve the Act’s transparency in supply chains (TISC) provisions.

Improving the TISC clause

In our statement we urge the Government to implement the Review’s recommendations, in particular the following:

  • Amending the Act to require companies to report on specific actions taken to address modern slavery and human trafficking
  • Introducing meaningful sanctions that go beyond fines and that could ultimately lead to company directors’ disqualification, for firms that fail to publish annual modern slavery statements
  • Requiring Government departments, local authorities, health care trusts and other public bodies to publish supply chain reports, to ensure they are using their buying power to tackle labour rights abuses.

Towards a more substantive legislative approach

We also call for the Government to look beyond corporate reporting, towards a more comprehensive approach necessary to tackling serious exploitation in corporate supply chains.

This should include addressing the wider labour rights enforcement deficits that are at the root causes of modern slavery, and exploring a requirement for companies to carry out due diligence throughout their supply chains and operations, in line with proposals being developed across Europe.