The 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act Hits Big Brands
It has now been just over a year since the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act came into effect. Large companies have been investigated, with some business owners seeing the inside of a prison cell. The following examples show the importance of ensuring your company is not associated with modern slavery.
The Not-So-Free Range Eggs
In June 2016 Jaqueline Judge and Darrell Houghton were found guilty of exploiting 6 Lithuanian men and of breaching the Modern Slavery Act. The six men had been trafficked to the UK and required to catch chickens from farms around the country. They were usually not given time to eat proper meals and deprived of appropriate facilities to wash and rest, being required to urinate in bottles and defecate in plastic bags while traveling between jobs. Wages were often withheld, as well as having a salary well under the agricultural minimum wage.
These workers were also intimated by fighting dogs if they ever complained. They were abused by “supervisors” who were employed by the couple to watch over them. One of the workers said “[Our Lithuanian supervisor] Edikas sometimes punished one person and sometimes punished the whole house for one person’s mistake.”
Being a Free Range Eggs provider, the irony of this case is striking. Further, this company distributed eggs to large chains including McDonald’s, Tesco and Asda. For them to be found guilty Modern Slavery charges is a reminder of the importance of verifying a company’s supply chain. Knowing potential red flags to look out for and having an effective reporting procedure in place is now more vital than ever.