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May 16 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm BST
Home-grown slavery prevention: How do we close the safe routes of slavery?
“Many UK employers do not understand immigration law, immigration status, or immigration documents. Studies carried by Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) found that 96.1% of employers reported that they lacked confidence in employing migrants (including refugees) from outside the EU as they had not received training on the validity of documents which tell them who has the right to work. 64% see this as a deterrent to employing Non-EEA. Further studies conducted by the 3 Million organisation before the end of Free movement rules found that 80% of employers said they were unclear on the new immigration rules of employing EU citizens. Nonetheless, employers are responsible for labour migration control. Faced with fines for getting it wrong, they are afraid to employ us, refugees and other non-EU migrants, who become vulnerable to domestic human trafficking. According to CTPSR’s studies,52.2% of respondents reported that they would like more information about who has the legal right to work. Despite the government’s legal obligation to educate and inform employers, in order to prevent them from becoming involved in forced or compulsory labour practices under the ILO protocol on Forced labour, which was ratified in 2016, support is not provided to employers. We have taken this responsibility and made significant impacts.
The introduction of the Identification Document Verification Technology law only exacerbates the situation, as it is no longer clear to employers which British and Irish citizens have the right to work in the UK. We have to remember that these two groups are not subject to immigration control. Therefore, they cannot commit an illegal working offence.
This ‘nightmare’ creates a situational vulnerability in a climate in which non-EEA, EU, British and Irish workers, who have the legal right to work, have no real and acceptable alternative but to submit to the abuse involved. Thus ‘good employers’ who recruit workers at home, or from overseas inadvertently become the perpetrators, or indirectly aid, abet the commission of domestic and international slavery offences by criminals. The role of the States in the creation of the safe labour migration routes for homegrown slavery through State policy or through the actions or ommision of State organs or officials across Europe has been overlooked for decades. Instead, as most modern slavery offences are committed by non-State actors (‘NSAs’) such as transnational criminal networks involved in human trafficking and corporations exploiting workers in their supply chains, States’ efforts have focused on preventing, protecting and prosecuting with supply chain due diligence duty, human rights due diligence duty, or labour migration control duty the offences committed by NSAs. Not only these strategies designed to crackdown on non-states actors do not work, but they have and continue to allow homegrown slavery to thrive unchallenged. A parliamentary committee found that modern slavery is not fully understood by the government.
We must distinguish Home-grown slavery from Modern slavery and take different approaches to tackle them. The former is rooted in non-state actors’ actions, whereas the latter is the by-product of States’ laws, policies and practices (See video attached). Homegrown slavery constitutes an internationally wrongful act entailing the international responsibility of States under the International Law Commission (ILC) Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (ARSIWA). What we call the safe labour migration routes of homegrown slavery are rooted in immigration rules, policies and practices in the labour market and the conflict between trade, labour, migration and equality laws. Migration routes are safe to travel, but not free from slavery.
As the Nationality and Borders Bill will now become law, preventing workers from becoming vulnerable must be a top priority. Building upon our lived experienced, Migrants At Work are pioneering a new concept to prevent, protect and Empower progress. We have developed solutions that work for us.
We invite you to join us and support our prevention strategy to tackle the roots of situational vulnerability and close the safe labour migration routes of homegrown slavery.”
Prof Alex Balch, professor of politics and Director of Research and Director of Policy Impact at Modern Slavery PEC
Prof Alex Balch is a professor of politics at the University of Liverpool, with research interests in policies on immigration and modern slavery. He currently leads the Antislavery Knowledge Network, which seeks to apply innovative methods to tackle modern slavery across Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also associate director of the African Programming and Research Initiative To End Slavery (APRIES). He has over 10 years’ experience designing and implementing programmes in diverse international contexts. His approach is collaborative and interdisciplinary, with the aim to develop new methods and modes of partnership across national boundaries with government, business and civil society to meet the challenges in addressing modern slavery.
John Cotton, Councillor, Birmingham City
Cllr Cotton is a professional public affairs practitioner, with two decades of experience in politics and policy development at local, national and European level, together with a successful record of delivery in some of the biggest political leadership roles in local government. He is presently working as a freelance consultant, alongside his ongoing work as a Birmingham City Councillor and the authority’s Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities, responsible for leading the city’s efforts to tackle social and economic injustice and building stronger, safer communities. He is passionate about social justice and tackling the root causes of poverty and disadvantage. This commitment has driven his work in local government, holding Cabinet portfolios covering adult social care, public health and housing and my wider work in the voluntary and community sector.
Toni Taylor, Managing Director, True Talent
Toni is the founder of Tru Talent. She has come from an Operational and Client Hiring background in Recruitment and has seen first-hand what challenges there can be when recruiting and using agencies. Toni is proud to be starting something fresh and new based on my experience within the industry, providing outstanding service to those who need it alongside her team.
Shan Saba, recruitment specialist and Founder of Scotland Against Modern slavery
Shan has over 20 years’ experience of working in the recruitment industry, and founded Scotland Against Modern Slavery with the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and now with over 40 business members.
Aké Achi, Founder and Director, Migrants At Work, and Trainee solicitor (SQE route)
Aké is a former child labourer and the winner of the prestigious Human Trafficking Foundation’s Anti-Slavery day Awards 2021, in the category “Empowering Survivors voices”. He founded Migrants At Work as human trafficking for labour exploitation is not Trade Unions to priority. He developed the concept of Homegrown slavery, and since 2009, he has been promoting labour migration law as a new legal practice to prevent work crimes, which include labour exploitation and forced labour, at the intersection of migration and labour laws. While recognising the positive role Trade Unions play in ensuring that workers are treated fairly by employers, he firmly believes that the trade Union movement contributes to homegrown slavery. Building on his lived experience, he offers a new vision and approach to prevent homegrown slavery and protect his community.