Labour Commits Council to Driving Slavery Out of the Supply-Chains

Yesterday Councillors committed Sheffield City Council to fully adopt the Co Operative parties’ Charter against Modern Slavery.

Councils across the UK spend more than £50bn per year on procuring goods and services. The charter, championed by the Co-operative Party, aims to ensure none of that money ends up supporting exploitation or trafficking.

The charter makes a series of commitments to keep supply chains clear of modern slavery, which is estimated to affect 13,000 people in the UK every year.

Speaking about the Charter and why it is so essential that the Council signed up to it, Councillor Olivia Blake, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance commented:

“It is often assumed that slavery is confined to the past, but the sad fact is that it is still very much prominent today. It often hides in plain sight and there are people in Sheffield directly affected.

“We must do everything possible to eradicate the scourge of slavery, and this is why Sheffield Labour councillors are committing the Council to a new Charter to ensure exploitation has no place in council supply chains.

“This will take the form of 10 measures – including challenging abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely on potential contractors practising modern slavery, as well as ensuring that throughout the supply-line workers have proper access to trade unions and whistle blowing, without reprisals”.

The Charter comes less than a year after the Ethical Procurement Policy, which shows how this Labour council is taking bold action to ensure high standards of ethical practice with everyone the Council has dealings with.

Signing the Charter, Council Leader Julie Dore commented:

“Modern Slavery is where traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

“As a council we will always try to do everything we can to tackle this problem and we can only hope to achieve this through combined partnership working across the city. I would like to pay special tribute to the work of the Snowdrop Project, who we work closely with. They who are based in Sheffield and do terrific work in supporting victims of trafficking and give strength and a voice to those trapped in slavery”.

Lara Bundock CEO of the Snowdrop Project:

“Over the last 6 years, The Snowdrop Project has helped hundreds of survivors of modern slavery rebuild their lives after being exploited and have witnessed first-hand the devastation it cause to the lives of people from all over the world, including here in the UK. We are therefore very proud that Sheffield council is amongst the first to be signing the Co-op Anti-Slavery Charter, committing to eradicate this abuse from supply chains to this great city.

“Modern Slavery is a complex crime and will only be ended through people working together on prevention, policing, supply and demand, protection and support. We look forward to working with the council even more on this issue as we take this significant step forwards as a City”

If members of the public are concerned that they may be aware of modern slavery, they should contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.”

What the Charter commits the Council to:

1. Train its corporate procurement team to understand modern slavery through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s (CIPS) online course on Ethical Procurement and Supply.

2. Require its contractors to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, with contract termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance.

3. Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor practising modern slavery.

4. Highlight to its suppliers that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to one.

5. Publicise its whistle-blowing system for staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

6. Require its tendered contractors to adopt a whistle-blowing policy which enables their staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.

7. Review its contractual spending regularly to identify any potential issues with modern slavery.

8. Highlight for its suppliers any risks identified concerning modern slavery and refer them to the relevant agencies to be addressed.

9. Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any of its contractors identified as a cause for concern regarding modern slavery.

10. Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually.