IrishConstruction.com logo

Greater industry collaboration is needed to eradicate unfair labour practices and clients and tier one organisations should take greater responsibility for their supply chains.

Priority should be given to tackling illegal recruitment fees, according to a new report Building a fairer system: tackling modern slavery in construction supply chains, launched by The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

The report, produced in consultation with a number of businesses and NGOs, including Amnesty International, Verité, Engineers Against Poverty and the Institute for Human Rights and Business, examines the root causes of slavery, and sets out priority actions for moving the industry towards greater transparency.

Slavery remains a problem hidden in many sectors. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 21 million people in forced labour around the world, generating profits in the private economy of $150 billion. Interpol estimates that only 5 to 10 per cent of cases are ever reported.

With its fragmented supply chains, opaque procurement processes and high demand for migrant labour, the construction sector faces a unique set of challenges in tackling human rights abuses. It is a priority area for the UK’s first Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland OBE, who writes a foreword for the report.

Building a fairer system examines how workers from developing countries become tricked or coerced into paying illegal and extortionate recruitment fees, and, once in debt, become vulnerable to exploitation in their place of work. Abuses range from forced or bonded labour, late payment, unsanitary living conditions, unfair deductions from wages, withheld passports and loss of freedom of movement, lack of representation, violence, intimidation and physical abuse. The report also examines how faults in the procurement process allow exploitative practices to remain hidden in building materials supply chains.

For a more extensive article see our September/October 2016 Issue of Irish Construction Industry Magazine available on subscription, contact Linda Doran accounts@mcdmedia.ie