Two men have been jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleaded guilty to trafficking people to the UK for the purpose of labour exploitation.
The increased focus on supply chain transparency has followed a number of allegations in recent years of multinational corporations purchasing products produced by forced labour. In April 2015 migrant workers were reportedly being treated like ‘slaves’ in Spain when growing vegetables for sale in UK supermarkets and in December 2015, the Guardian published new allegations of global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slave labourers in Thailand.
Most recently (Friday 15th January 2016) two men have been jailed for three-and-a-half years after pleaded guilty to trafficking people to the UK for the purpose of labour exploitation and also money laundering offences. The two men plead guilty to trafficking two people from Lithuania and forcing them to work in a farm produce processing plants for as little as £20 over four months.
In the wake of forced labour abuse revelations in global supply chains, companies are expected by consumers, investors, media and governments to maintain a transparent and responsible supply chains.
Complying with the Laws
The Act includes a new requirement for large businesses operating in the UK to produce an annual slavery and human trafficking statement, setting out how they are preventing slavery and human trafficking taking place in their supply chains. Although similar to the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 which entered into force in 2012, this is the first time that a country has introduced a human trafficking reporting requirement.
Who is required to make a slavery & human trafficking statement?
Basically all major companies and partnerships – whether supermarkets, retailers, technology brands, banks, accountancy firms or even law firms – that supply goods or services in the UK (wherever incorporated) and have an annual turnover of more than £36 million (including the turnover of any subsidiaries).
Businesses with a year-end of 31 March 2016 will be the first required to publish such a statement. Businesses will be expected to publish their statements as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of each financial year in which they are producing the statement. The Government guidance suggests that it should be within six months of the organisation’s financial year end. We can, therefore, expect the first statements to come out by September 2016.
The annual slavery and human trafficking statement is required to set out the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place both in its own business and also in any of its supply chains.
How Should Companies Respond?
If companies are serious about eradicating trafficking and forced labour, they must also look beyond their first-tier suppliers to ensure that businesses deep in their supply chains are mirroring their own commitments
How Authenticate can help
Authenticate are helping companies to fully understand their supply chains, providing the industry with a collaborative platform, created by industry professionals who have the skills and knowledge needed to not only help business’ comply with industry legislation but
Companies with responsible supply chain practices not only protect vulnerable workers, but they also guard against risk, maintain customer loyalty and attract new investors. The more companies who proactively engage in responsible supply chain management practices, the better equipped they will be to respond when a disruption occurs. Those that do not could face financial and legal risk, in addition to the tarnished perception of the brand.
Companies can verify the integrity of their supply chains with data. The data also makes it easier to evaluate and participate in related initiatives to certify products, inform sustainability reporting, and create media outreach programs. Also, having a clearer picture of product movements reduces risk by making supply chains more transparent.
Take action to protect your supply chain with Authenticate
The more companies who proactively engage in responsible supply chain management practices, the better equipped they will be to respond when a disruption occurs.