The next UK government must strengthen legislation to stop human rights abuses and human slavery in the supply chain, according to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
The international NGO, which follows up concerns of human rights abuses, says that UK companies are linked to allegations of labour rights abuses and modern slavery, particularly through complex global supply chains. This includes forced labour, union busting, poverty wages, and workplace deaths.
In its briefing paper Is the UK living up to its business & human rights commitments? the organisation outlines recommendations to tackle human slavery and other human rights abuses in corporate activities.
The NGO calls for the next government to strengthen the supply chain reporting requirements of the Modern Slavery Act by including clearer requirements for disclosure and stronger enforcement provisions.
There should also be a commitment to only provide access to public procurement contracts to companies that have undertaken strong human rights due diligence and are not associated with serious rights abuses, it says.
The centre said it had produced the briefing for the election period to highlight the major challenges facing the next British government where international leadership will be required.
“It is clear from our analysis that UK businesses have serious impacts on people and communities around the world,” said executive director Phil Bloomer. “As a leading economy our companies should be setting the standard for corporate conduct on human rights, not being implicated in everything from poverty wages to beatings and killings. The next government must encourage and push companies to respect human rights and ensure abuses do not go unpunished.”
The NGO, which has offices in London and New York, tracks the human rights impacts of more than 6,000 companies in over 180 countries. It publishes its findings on its website in seven languages.