Britain’s largest department store, John Lewis, has joined a program to provide jobs to hundred of survivors of modern slavery, joining cosmetics company The Body Shop and mobile phone and electrical firm Dixons Carphone.
The employment program, “Bright Future”, was launched last year and offers survivors of modern slavery four-week paid work placements that can lead to a permanent job.
The scheme’s founders, Co-op supermarket and the charity City Hearts, say that 300 such placements could be made by 2020 now that 10 more British companies have signed up.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
“Victims need to be supported while they rebuild their lives and central to that is the dignity that paid, freely chosen employment provides,” said Steve Murrells, head of the Co-op.
“Without this, there is a real chance that they could fall back into the hands of those who have exploited them and for the terrible, unspeakable cycle of enslavement to begin again.”
More than 50 are already part of the “Bright Future” scheme, which has also been backed by food manufacturers, a flower and plant retailer, and a leading construction firm.
John Lewis Partnership’s director of corporate responsibility, Benet Northcote, said the 154-year-old group owned by its 85,500 workers had long been committed to raising labor standards and improving working conditions.
Phillip Clayton of charity City Hearts added, “Knowing that businesses are rising up to make a difference, many more survivors will experience dignity, hope and real transformation.”
The new 2018 Global Slavery Index published by the Walk Free Foundation estimates that there are around 136,000 victims of modern slavery in Britain.
Last year John Lewis, which also owns Waitrose supermarkets, pulled luxury granite worktops from its shelves after human rights groups found that many laborers mining the rock in southern Indian quarries were victims of modern slavery.