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Modern slavery: Why we can’t ignore our responsibilities

14 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

The construction sector - including some of the UK's most prestigious projects - shouldn't be complacent when it comes to modern slavery in UK businesses, Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) chief executive Chris Blythe has warned.

His caution comes as CIOB published its Construction and the Modern Slavery Act, tackling exploitation in the UK, an extensive report examining exploitation of workers in the sector.

Blythe said the report's findings were "unsettling" and showed that the industry was complacent about the degree to which workers in construction were being exploited.

He said: "Our research highlights the difficulties that all stakeholders have, including companies, enforcement agencies, and the police, medical and social workers, in understanding the complexities of human trafficking: how victims are tricked and trapped; how criminals operate and evolve.

"We don’t yet have all the facts, but be in no doubt: any supply chain is at risk of criminal infiltration. Over the past year we’ve heard stories of abject misery, and not just on small fly-by-night sites, but on some of the UK’s most prestigious projects."

In his blog on the CIOB's website, Blythe suggested that "our aggressive price-driven culture" was to blame for the situation, and that the industry needed to seize the opportunity to reinvent its business models and find a new narrative for talking about human rights risks.

"Professional leadership is at the heart of this transformation, and not just at the top of organisations. We all need to take more responsibility for what we see around us," he said.

To read Blythe's blog in full, click here.

To read the CIOB's report, Construction and the Modern Slavery Act, tackling exploitation in the UK, click here.

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