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Wider collaboration needed to address modern slavery in the supply chain

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SCAPE Group and our delivery partners, alongside academic and ethical labour bodies are championing consistent processes across the industry to improve labour and employment practice.

Modern slavery in construction

According to the ILO (International Labour Organization), the number of victims of modern slavery is continuing to rise, and the UK Government has highlighted the construction industry and its associated supply chains as being one of the sectors at significant risk of labour exploitation.

How we're preventing modern slavery in construction

In 2021, we brought together our delivery partners; Balfour Beatty, Graham, Kier, Mace, McLaughlin & Harvey, Morgan Sindall, Sisk, and Willmott Dixon - some of the UK’s most influential construction firms, and strategic partners across the ethical labour landscape and academia, to form our Ethical Labour Partnership. This long-term, collaborative working group is dedicated to addressing the inherent challenges and driving positive change in fair and ethical treatment of workers.

Collaborative groups within construction provide the ideal platform to identify and tackle labour exploitation and improve the welfare of workers across the sector. Our Modern Slavery Partnership is taking a leading role in the industry’s shared responsibility for raising procurement and delivery standards in construction, and its members recognise their responsibility to protect and support vulnerable workers.

All parties involved in SCAPE’s partnership approach take their duty to safeguarding workers extremely seriously, but we need this to be adopted more widely. The next steps rely on a unified approach between key players including industry leaders, government and policy makers. With this leadership and direction, the wider construction industry can support and drive long-term change forward.

Mark Robinson

SCAPE Group Chief Executive

Driving change in our ethical labour practices

SCAPE Group and our partners believe it is time for the wider industry and central government to strengthen the national response to this worsening crisis. Exploiters and traffickers will always look for new ways to cheat the system and keep unethical practice under the radar. Our collective response needs to be more collaborative, robust, focused, and present real obstacles and deterrents to them.

Findings from over 4,000 construction worker surveys and lower-tier supply chain management audits during 2022/23 highlighted several key opportunities for improvement in terms of legislative process and compliance at various levels of the supply chain. Building upon those findings, our delivery partners have committed to a programme of activity to strengthen their collective approach.

In addition, the lessons learned are being embedded into SCAPE’s framework processes and are now being championed to ensure the industry’s approach to fair and ethical treatment is standardised. Extending this across the sector would significantly reduce the risk to business and ensure the protection of workers remains a key focus at all levels of the supply chain.

At the GLAA, we understand partnership working and a collaborative approach in sectors such as construction delivers the best results in stopping worker exploitation. Frameworks which put worker welfare at their core and promote a culture of information sharing among partners are invaluable in raising standards and reducing risks across all industries.

Samantha Ireland

Director of Strategy and Impact, the GLAA

Our delivery partner commitments 2023/24

Achieving and maintaining this change will require collaborative, sustained effort from the industry, its supply chains, central and local government, as well as NGOs, trade unions and professional bodies.

There is still work to be done, but together we can improve conditions and experiences for all workers, as we strive to build a fairer, more transparent, ethically-conscious industry for the future.

Learn more about our delivery partner commitments for 2023/24 here.

The very nature of this complex issue means that collaborative partnerships are vital in increasing transparency and creating meaningful and lasting improvements. This partnership offers a real opportunity to make a lasting difference.

Adam Whitfield

Head of Compliance & ESG, Achilles

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Our Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement

We aim to ensure that our supply chains and every part of our business are, and remain, free from slavery and human trafficking.