Modern slavery in the UK

Innula Zenovka

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Quite seriously, since the Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force, pulling together existing offences and also introducing measures to prohibit British companies from using enslaved labour in their overseas supply chains, it's become clear it's an immense problem here, whether as a result of international people trafficking or gangmasters keeping vulnerable people as, in effect, slaves for manual labour.


The same must be true of other countries. France, I know, has similar legislation, and so too do several other EU countries. So, I think, has Australia.

What of the USA, though? It must be a huge problem in a country with so many undocumented immigrants, particularly now the administration is so hostile to them.

The experience of the UK and other countries must suggest that it's not sufficient to say, "Lincoln freed the slaves. We've got the 14th Amendment and the Mann Act, so it's not a problem."
 
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It is a problem in the US. As usual the ways to fight it are decided by party identity rather than based on observable data. For example, I live in a Republican state, and the Governor has been making many announcements about ways to address the problem. All of his approaches focus on those involved in the movement of people. This is a good thing of course, but the people who benefit from the use of the labour are mostly ignored except some of those dealing in sex. The underlying assumption is that business is good and should not have to bear the burden of any kind of regulation that might restrain it.
 

Brenda Archer

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All my knowledge is anecdotal. There are a lot of people who are not slaves exactly, but don’t have normal workers’ rights, like minimum wage, because they’re not legal immigrants.

It’s also still legal to hire disabled people for wages far below minimum wage, and I have heard reports that some of that has been coerced.

I have also seen up close a situation with neighbors who were being controlled by pimps and how the cops would monitor that, but not intervene. Some of what went on appeared to me to be trafficking, but not all. Gangs/organized crime seem to control a lot of lives and that’s certainly slavery when it’s prostitution. I would hear astonishing stories when I was at the medical respite shelter.

At the same time I do know there are charities and law enforcement trying to fight all these problems. I don’t know how that works out precisely.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Thanks, both. Perhaps I should clarify one aspect of terminology, which I suspect may be a specifically British usage.

Over here, a "gangmaster" is a legal term, referring to anyone who employs people to do work which he or she is being paid by a third party to arrange. So rather than sourcing, interviewing and hiring all the seasonal workers needed to bring in the harvest, or all the unskilled labourers needed on particular phases of a construction project, the farmer/developer will contract with a gangmaster, who will handle all that and simply turn up, on the day, with all the necessary labourers, and then at the end of the day, drive them back home and pay them himself out of the fee he's received for arranging their services.

Gangmasters are supposed to be licenced, and most of them are and perfectly above board. But some aren't as scrupulous, and the system is certainly open to the most dreadful abuses, as we've seen.

It's not just undocumented immigrants brought here by people-traffickers the rogue gangmasters exploit, although they're obviously particularly vulnerable to this sort of abuse, but also people from elsewhere in the EU who maybe don't speak much English (and have family back home for whose welfare they fear if they upset the gangmaster) and also, it's become all too clear, vulnerable Brits.

There's been a whole series of prosecutions here involving (typically) whole families who have assembled gangs of people whom they have effectively enslaved by approaching vulnerable and homeless people living on the streets with offers of board, lodging and pocket money and then kept them on their isolated farms, living in squalid conditions, unpaid, malnourished, and subject to regular beatings if they step out of line, where they use them as forced labour either for themselves or for others.

 
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eku zhong

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Korea has recently been outed internationally but it was pretty much common (though for the most part ignored) knowledge.


Japan also has a long and murky past (and present) with modern day slavery, but no real expose has been done on it.
One area that has come to light is exploiting homeless at the Fukushima cleanup.
Reuters did a mini report on it but it is even more rife than we can imagine. There have been vague reports of workers being told to cover their dosimeters with aluminium foil so that they can work longer.
But since there is no freedom of the press in Japan, we don't really know.
But many of these workers will not even get paid much, if at all, because the contract companies deduct board and lodging and misc made up expenses like protective gear etc. If they become ill (due to radiation or other causes) they are just dumped back in some big city.



some links
OHCHR | Japan: Fukushima clean-up workers, including homeless, at grave risk of exploitation, say UN experts
Special Report: Japan's homeless recruited for murky Fukushima...
Atomic mafia: Yakuza ‘cleans up’ Fukushima, neglects basic workers' rights

Other than that, the government sponsored intern programs are just another type of human trafficking where much abuse takes place.
Turning Technical Interns into Slave Laborers | SNA Japan

and the global slave index for Japan
Study faults Japan for inaction on modern-day slavery | The Japan Times
 

Rose Karuna

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I remember when this was going on, some of the people who were helping the workers form the CIW went to the same UU church I did. The things they described were horrible, truly horrible, right here in Florida and in modern times. Clearing up US 'ground-zero' for modern slavery

Unfortunately only 90% of growers allow their farms to be inspected by the CIW and allow them to speak with their employees. Sadly, I suspect that the remaining 10% are pretty brutal and it's business as usual. Fortunately there is a list of suppliers that buy their produce from the CIW, I just hope enough people care about it to look and follow through.

Unfortunately, slaved labor permeates all of Florida industry, not just agriculture:
Florida Couple Pleads Guilty to Forced Labor Conspiracy of 39 Filipino Guest Workers
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/05/17/how-slave-labor-built-the-state-of-florida-decades-after-the-civil-war/
Here’s What Exploitation Of Domestic Workers Looks Like

US Government appears to have gotten better at recognizing sexual slavery and appear to have active programs to do something about it but when it comes to slavery in any other industry they turn a blind eye as far as I can see. In fact, in some towns that may actually aid the farms and industries that are abusing the workers.