Anti-Slavery Day: Wilberforce Institute in Hull launches training to help businesses eradicate exploitation

Street performers at the Freedom Festival in Hull, was originally established as part of the 2007 William Wilberforce commemorations, celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.�Picture: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian Street
Street performers at the Freedom Festival in Hull, was originally established as part of the 2007 William Wilberforce commemorations, celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.�Picture: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian Street
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A new programme to help businesses tackle labour exploitation has been launched today by the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute.

The training, which helps organisations identify and eliminate slavery practices that may be lying hidden in their business operations, has been introduced today to also mark Anti-Slavery Day.

Anti-Slavery Day is held in recognition of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.

Cristina Talens, director of modern slavery risk assessments at the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute, said: “It’s shocking to think that many of us are unwittingly coming into contact with slavery on a daily basis.

“The areas of our lives tainted by practices such as forced labour, labour exploitation and human trafficking are many and include the hospitality, domestic, beauty and construction industries to name a few.

“Forced labour is prevalent within the private economy; lying hidden within the complex supply chains that produce many of our household goods and services.”

The new training will help businesses to identify and eliminate slavery in supply chains and meet their legal obligations in relation to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Ms Talens said: “Under the Modern Slavery Act, bigger businesses in the UK have a legal obligation to report on how they are addressing modern slavery in their global supply chains.

“But, with an estimated 25 million people trapped in forced labour across the world according to the International Labour Organisation, all companies have a moral responsibility to eliminate slavery practices from their business operations.”

The business training forms part of the Wilberforce Institute’s ‘It’s Time to Break the Chain’ initiative which highlights the plight of the millions of people trapped in forced labour across the world.

Specialists at the institute, who carry out slavery risk assessments for major UK companies, have developed the training.

Completing the training provides businesses with an understanding of how modern-day slavery manifests and the human rights risks that commonly exist within supply chains. Businesses are guided towards developing solutions to eliminate these practices.

Ms Talens said: “The Modern Slavery Act was introduced in response to growing pressure to address modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking in the country.

“It’s encouraging that compliance with the legislation is steadily increasing. But little remains in place to assist those businesses who want and need to dig deeper into their supply chains to remove labour exploitation from within their processes.

“These practices can be difficult for companies to identify, often lying hidden within sophisticated supply chains. In an increasingly global market place, the complexity and pace involved in today’s supply chains combine to create an environment where unscrupulous labour providers can often thrive.

“This training helps businesses build awareness and vigilance around this most-pressing human rights issue.”

For more information contact Cristina Talens at the Wilberforce Institute at C.Talens@hull.ac.uk or on 01482 305176.