‘The most vulnerable are relying on us’ – Tracy Brabin MP speaks out on ‘tragedy’ of modern slavery

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin says we all have a part to play in protecting the most vulnerable from a greed-driven “tragedy of human making” on what is Anti-Slavery Day 2018.

The MP delivered a powerful speech in Parliament during a debate last week highlighting the “vile, disgusting and pernicious” crime that is modern-day slavery and the impact it can have on communities such as Batley and Spen.

Ms Brabin used the opportunity to highlight the inhuman conditions workers were forced to endure in a case in Batley and Spen in 2015 and went on to praise local firm Fox’s Biscuits for signing up to the Co-op’s Bright Future anti-slavery campaign.

During the debate, which was secured to ensure modern day slavery remains at the top of the political agenda, Ms Brabin said: “The tragedy of slavery is that it is a condition of human making, driven by greed and a pernicious desire to profit from excessively cheap labour, happening in plain sight. Sadly, my constituency has not been immune.

“In 2015, we had our first—I hope it is our last—conviction for modern-day slavery. Hungarian workers were promised good jobs and somewhere to stay, working in bed manufacturing, but on arrival they were shoved into dilapidated houses, some with up to 42 men living in two-bedroom properties, forced to work 10 to 16 hours a day, five to seven days a week, sometimes for as little as £10 a day, making beds for John Lewis and Next.

“It is a vile, disgusting crime, preying on workers desperate to forge a better life for themselves and their families. Thankfully, after excellent investigation work by local police, the owner was rightly convicted and sent to prison.

“I am proud that the parent company of my local biscuit manufacturer, Fox’s Biscuits—I worked there in my teens—2 Sisters, has signed up to the Co-op’s Bright Future anti-slavery campaign.

“That scheme has worked with more than 30 victims of modern-day slavery who are now in employment and able to rebuild their lives.

“Of course, we all have a part to play. As consumers, we have a duty to prevent exploitation by realising that if something looks like a ridiculous bargain, somewhere around the world someone has been exploited.

“We must step up and be accountable, empower those vulnerable to slavery, promote access to decent work and support trade unions.

“I also encourage anyone watching who feels they have seen or heard something to use the modern-day slavery helpline if needs be. The most vulnerable are relying on us.”

To report a suspicion or case of modern-day slavery you can call the helpline on 0800 0121 700 or go to the website at https://www.modernslaveryhelpline.org

For more information about the Co-op Bright Future campaign, go to https://www.co-operative.coop/campaigning/modern-slavery-campaign

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