Indians in restaurant sector at greater risk of modern slavery in UK: report

An Indian flag hangs near the London landmark Big Ben in Parliament Square in London. File Photo.   | Photo Credit: AP

Indians employed in the hospitality industry are at a greater risk of falling victim to modern-day slavery in the UK, according to a new report on labour exploitation in the country released on Tuesday.

India is among the top 10 victim nationalities identified as being at risk of exploitation, with numbers more than doubling since 2015 - when the UK’s Modern Slavery Act came into force. Vietnam is at the highest risk, followed by nationals from Romania, Poland, China, Sudan and then India, the new report by the UK’s Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) found.

GLAA intelligence shows that, where known, Indian workers are most commonly found in the hotel and restaurant sector. Open source reporting also shows that India is ranked a ‘severe risk’ source country from which modern day slaves enter the UK, the report notes.

The study titled ‘The Nature and Scale of Labour Exploitation Across All Sectors Within the United Kingdom’ narrowed down high-risk sectors for mistreatment of labourers, ranging from wages theft to slavery. Construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes were among the top sectors, followed by agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse and distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work, and social care.

Slavery and exploitation continues to thrive in every town and every city and our dedicated workforce will continue to build on what we’ve achieved, said Ian Waterfield, Head of Operations at the GLAA.

The slavery watchdog has new powers to investigate labour abuse in all sectors under the UK’s 2016 Immigration Act and the new report marks its first full year of work assessing the nature of the problem in the UK.

The sad reality is that the criminality that drives exploitation and slavery is quite close to home in the towns, cities and countryside in which we live and work, added Roger Bannister, interim Chief Executive at the GLAA.

Many arrests made

The GLAA was given police-style powers in May last year and a remit to tackle exploitation across the entire UK labour market. During its first 12 months in operation, it has made 107 arrests, identified 1,335 abused workers, recovered £94,000 for exploited workers and launched 181 investigations.

UK’s Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said the barbaric nature of modern slavery destroys the lives of its victims, leading the UK government to introduce the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and increasing the GLAA’s funding by £ 2.6 million a year to help tackle modern slavery and wider labour exploitation.

This report is part of the GLAA’s crucial work to understand the scale of exploitation of vulnerable workers so that law enforcement can identify and protect victims, and convict their perpetrators, she said.

Among some of the key findings of the report, more than half the workforce in UK garment manufacturing is made up of undocumented workers mainly doing night shifts and victims of exploitation in this sector are predominantly Pakistani and Romanian.

The analysis also found that victims of labour exploitation were found to be most commonly Vietnamese, with British victims increasing by 362 per cent. Forced labour accounts for around 30 per cent of all exploitation, with the majority of victims male EU nationals from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 2:02:00 PM |

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