The International Labour Organisation and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority issued a letter of intent to strengthen their collaboration on tackling abusive recruitment practices that trick workers into modern slavery and forced labour.
It was signed Guy Ryder (pictured), director-general of the ILO and Paul Broadbent, chief executive of the GLA in the presence of representatives from the Home Office, the Confederation of British Industry employers’ body and the Trades Union Congress.
The ILO and the GLA have been collaborating closely in the fight against fraudulent and abusive recruitment practices, forced labour and trafficking in persons over the past few years.
In the framework of the Fair Recruitment Initiative, led by the ILO and supported by the ITUC and the International Organisation of Employers, new ‘General principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment’ were launched in September 2016, and have been recognised widely as an international benchmark on how to address the issue.
“Tackling abusive recruitment practices is key in effectively preventing modern slavery and forced labour nationally and across borders,” said Ryder. “The GLA’s work has changed how the regulation and monitoring of labour recruiters is carried out in the UK. It is a model which can inspire other governments on how to implement the Fair Recruitment Principles and Guidelines.”
Following the enactment of the UK’s Immigration Act 2016 , the GLA has been given new powers, including the possibility to investigate modern slavery offences related to labour exploitation, with increased powers of arrest, search and seizure of evidence of labour abuse. The GLA will be able to investigate across the entire UK labour market, and not solely in the fresh goods and related processing and packaging sectors as before.
“These extended powers will help us pursue our goal to protect vulnerable workers from being exploited in the UK,” said Broadbent. “Strengthening our collaboration with the ILO will provide the opportunity to share the experience we have gained and contribute to training programmes and tools to increase reporting and identification of forced labour and abusive labour practices across supply chains.”
Cooperation between the GLA and the ILO will also contribute to raising awareness on the transparency provisions of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015, which require companies to ensure that human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains. The ILO Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention also promotes due diligence by both the public and private sectors to prevent and respond to the risks of forced labour.
“The fact that in today’s world there are still children, women and men in modern slavery, is an affront to all people and nations everywhere. We all have a role to play to eliminate it once and for all. Social partners are a central piece of the equation, together with other valuable partners such as the GLA,” said Ryder.