Home secretary calls for private sector help in fight against modern slavery

Gurjit Degun
7 December 2013

The home secretary has called on the private sector to “play its part” in tackling modern slavery in their supply chains.

Speaking at the Trust Women Conference on Wednesday, Theresa May reiterated her commitment to introducing a Modern Slavery Bill – the first of its kind in Europe – to “reduce the number of victims of this abhorrent crime”.

She explained that she has set up a Modern Slavery Unit, which includes police officers, at the Home Office and laid out the government’s responsibilities.

However, May said that the government wants companies to be “confident that they do not conduct business with suppliers involved in trafficking”.

She said: “The Home Office will work with businesses and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to prevent the exploitation of workers. But I would also like companies to take the initiative themselves. Household names such as Ford, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Hilton are already doing so. And, I would like this list of businesses to grow and grow.

“I do not think any of us want to rely on legislation. We would all like to see immediate action. We would like a commitment from each and every business in this room to look into their supply chain and make sure that there are no instances of labour exploitation.”

May also called for help from the voluntary sector because “we need a more cohesive and joined-up approach”.

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