Building Research Establishment (BRE), the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Sustain Worldwide have joined forces to highlight the existence of 21st century slavery and how UK construction, unwittingly, supports it.
Their coalition has secured support from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Build UK, Constructing Excellence, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) and the Supply Chain Sustainability School, among others.
“The charter acts to coalesce the construction industry and provides a focal point for government and civil society to collaborate with the sector on business human rights issues,” said BRE director Shamir Ghumra. “The construction sector’s institutions’ and associations’ support for the charter demonstrates their intent to raise awareness among their members of the heinous practice of modern slavery.”
Signatories to the Construction Coalition Charter commit to seek opportunities to uphold, preserve and promote the right of freedom in the UK construction industry. Specifically, they commit to:
- Act in accordance with the laws and regulations to which they are subject
- Develop tools, materials and training that support the development of best practice approaches to the issue of business and human rights
- Support best practice through partnerships and research
- Use their influence, and working with relevant authorities, to support the abolition of illegal and unethical practices whenever they are found
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 includes a clause requiring larger companies to adopt anti-slavery policies and state what they are. For example, see Balfour Beatty’s at www.balfourbeatty.com/media/244484/modern-slavery-statement-14-march-2017.pdf
Chris McCann, principal consultant, supply chain services at BSI, said: “The UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commission has identified construction as one of its four core focus sectors. Through the charter, the construction industry demonstrates to government, civil society, and indeed all stakeholders, that leaders in the sector are committed to working together to ensure human rights are actively promoted in their direct operations and global supply chains.”
CIOB chief executive Chris Blythe added: “We are delighted to be part of this cross-industry collaboration. The charter provides an unprecedented opportunity for industry and trade bodies to come together with a unified voice and message. Worker exploitation is a global problem intertwined with most international supply chains. It will take vigilance, top level leadership and a consistent approach to bring meaningful change.”