We are told that slavery has been abolished, but it exists in the UK and it’s closer than you think. It affects men, women and children in many areas of work and industry. Slavery is happening across the UK so that cheap food is produced from this forced labour. One of the reasons farmers don’t check closely enough is that the supermarkets bully farmers into lowering wholesale prices. Another is the increasing casual employment of foreign workers controlled by gangmasters.
Gangmasters provide trafficked people to farms and nurseries, who work long hours for little to zero wages. The pressures to turn to these crooks is immoral but to a certain extent understandable. British workers know the rules and demand that the get the proper pay, are covered by health and safety legislation, and are not forced to work ridiculous hours.
Foreign workers mostly don’t know these things and their controllers take advantage of them. The accommodation provided for these people is usually substandard and overcrowded. Slavery should concern us all. What goes on in the horticultural and agricultural industries has a domino effect.
Who would have believed that in Britain we would have zero-hour contracts and a proliferation of the gig economy? Workers rights and conditions have regressed. We are fast returning to the employment conditions of the first half of the twentieth century. Even contracted employees in established industries are little more than slaves.
However, the real victims of this “slide to the bottom” are the people controlled by gangmasters and decent British people should look out for them and report this abuse to the authorities. Do you know or suspect anything near you? Report concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700 or visit the website.
“Home Secretary Theresa May said tougher penalties of up to life imprisonment for human traffickers would lead to more prosecutions” – Daily Mail
Learn how to spot the signs, and find advice and support if you have been a victim of slavery at Modern Slavery website
Further reading: The new slaves: Children forced to work as farm labourers
Getting Help for victims in the United Kingdom
If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, contact the police – call 999 if it’s an emergency, or 101 if it’s not urgent. WARNING In my experience calling the police is the worst option. Nothing will be done because they are a lazy bunch of bastards.
If you’d prefer to stay anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. This, not the police directly but a very effective charity, probably the best option.
If you want confidential advice about trafficking before calling the police, there are a number of specialist organisations you can talk to:
The Modern Slavery helpline 0800 0121 700, is open 24 hours a day.
If you think a child is in danger of trafficking you can contact the NSPCC’s helpline 0808 8005 000.