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The secret slaves of Scotland: Experts warn rising epidemic of human trafficking now scars every village, town and city – The Sunday Post

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:41 am

Victims of human trafficking can now be found in every town and city in Scotland, experts say.

And as the number of victims increases each year, one charity working with trafficked people has predicted the total it will help this year will be double that of 2018. Cases include sexual exploitation and domestic slavery linked to major cities.

But victims are also forced to work in sectors from the beauty industry and car washes in town centres to agriculture and fisheries in our remotest communities.

Jim Laird, an anti-trafficking expert and contributor to the Scottish Parliaments cross-party group on the issue, said: Human trafficking is now everywhere in Scotland.

I have seen cases in Skye, Inverclyde, Lanarkshire, Tayside and the Borders to name just a few. We need to raise awareness and have people spot the signs and have police follow through on information.

Mr Laird, human trafficking lead at Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership, said: We know there are multiple cases of Eastern European crime gangs operating in Glasgow and particularly in Govanhill.

Police are aware and their anti-trafficking unit have been obtaining intelligence on it for some time. Quite often you find Eastern European gangs work in tandem with Asian crime gangs in Scotland. Eastern European gangs provide the people and Asian gangs provide transport and the accommodation in which people are placed.

This has been going on for several years now. However, for any cases prosecuted, the punishment clearly hasnt been sufficient enough to prevent people from operating. This is a real concern. We need to see longer sentences and the legislation applied more appropriately.

There are legislative powers available now but they are not being widely used, nor are powers to recover money from the perpetrators.

He added: Some sentences delivered by the courts have been far too short in my opinion where people are out of prison in a couple of years after having enslaved and exploited people to the tune of thousands of pounds.

There is also still a low prosecution rate in Scotland despite the numbers of people being identified as victims.

I have been doing this type of work for a long time now and I see the impact on victims and on their lives. People say we have some of the best legislation in the world in Scotland. But that doesnt mean a lot unless it is being properly implemented.

We need to ensure that we get the traffickers and they get stiff sentences and it sends out a message to people.

Intelligence revealed by anti-trafficking workers in 2017 pinpointed victims in at least 27 locations from Aberdeen and Annan to Dundee, Kirkcaldy and the Orkney Islands.

Research from Romania found a chilling progression, with young women being exploited for prostitution, then later for domestic labour, and eventually in old age for begging.

Last year, there were 228 referrals for help for victims in Scotland, a figure up 130% since 2013, for the full range of sexual and labour exploitation and domestic servitude.

Rabiya Ravat, deputy director of operations at Migrant Help, one of two groups to which victims can be officially referred for help in Scotland, said: Trafficking and exploitation exists absolutely in every town and city in Scotland.One of the biggest groups we come across are those working in car washes. People need to think about whats happening if they are going for a full car wash and valet which takes an hour and costs 3. Basic maths indicates this does not meet minimum wage requirements.

We get a lot of individuals, particularly Vietnamese, exploited for cannabis cultivation and we also see cases where women are trafficked for domestic servitude or sexual exploitation. These can be linked to sham marriages and attempts to manipulate immigration.

It can be young women in their teens or early 20s who are very vulnerable and are then subjected to quite horrific circumstances and exploitation.

Law enforcement can only do so much and they ultimately respond to crimes being identified.

I would urge the public to open their eyes and ears and report any suspicions of trafficking or modern slavery.

We have seen almost double the number of referrals month on month in Scotland compared to the same periods last year. This is across all nationalities and all types of exploitation so we know that there is a massive increase.

We need greater awareness in the public consciousness that this is happening and is not far removed from them. Its often hidden in plain sight and happens in every town and city.

In Scotland we are talking about several hundred referrals for our services supporting men, women and families affected.

She added: We have good legislation and government supported programmes and when people are identified they can be supported.

Bronagh Andrew, operations manager at Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), the other charity to which cases, specifically sex trafficking victims, are referred for help, said: Trafficking is an issue of growing concern in Scotland. It is a crime perpetrated by brutal and ruthless criminals who seek to make money from the exploitation and misery of others.

The sad truth is people are being trafficked from all over the world to meet the demands of the sex industry. Those who buy sex must also share responsibility as they fuel the demand that the traffickers feed off.

The suffering of the women who are bought and sold for sex will be barely even a consideration for the traffickers and their customers, if at all.

Raising awareness of this appalling industry is vital to disrupt the criminals and assist the authorities in tackling this problem.

Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, who campaigned for legislation to be introduced to tackle the issue, said: Its quite apparent that human trafficking is happening in communities across the length and breadth of the country.

Its four years since the legislation was passed which introduced clearer and stronger penalties for these types of offences.

Police and authorities, and indeed all of us, must vigilant to the fact that these heinous crimes are happening. It is a crime of extreme abuse and the people responsible must be brought to justice.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: The Scottish Government is committed to tackling the incidence and impact of human trafficking both by providing stronger powers to pursue perpetrators and strengthening the support available for victims of this nefarious crime.

There is no place for human trafficking in our communities and through Scotlands Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy we are working to eliminate this crime.

Information can be passed to the Modern Slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Greenock/Port Glasgow

Anti-trafficking workers report concerns over nail bars, takeaways and car washes using people brought in from Eastern Europe in past couple of years.

Appin

Abul Kamal Azad found himself forced to work in a remote Highland hotel after borrowing money to come to Britain.

Azad, now 33, who has a wife and son back in Dhaka, found himself the only employee at the Stewart Hotel, in Appin, near Fort William, below, cleaning, cooking, and gardening for up to 22 hours a day, seven days a week.

He said: I was the only worker for 37 bedrooms, I did everything. I woke every morning at 5am. Two coaches of tourists would arrive day after day.

His sponsor, Shamsul Arefin, 50, paid him just 100 a month, took his passport, and threatened to report him as an illegal worker if he complained. Eventually Azad and three new Bangladeshi workers alerted the authorities, and the hotel was raided by the UK Border Agency. In 2015, Arefin was found guilty of human trafficking and jailed for three years.

Skye

Eastern Europeans brought in by Russian gangsters to gather shellfish around two years ago.

Perth

Romanian Remus Groza, who forced his countrymen to live in squalor and paid them just 30 a month for agriculture work, was found guilty of people trafficking last year.

Dundee

Yen Huang, 62, a brothel madam linked to a shadowy Chinese people smuggling ring, who trafficked women into Scotland for sex, was last year jailed for 27 months.

Edinburgh and Glasgow

Ten Romanian women rescued in 2018 from addresses in the two cities where they were working as prostitutes.

Kilmacolm

Trafficked Vietnamese people forced during to work in a cannabis cultivation operation around two years ago.

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The secret slaves of Scotland: Experts warn rising epidemic of human trafficking now scars every village, town and city - The Sunday Post

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Car washes targeted across Bedfordshire in fight against modern slavery and exploitation. – Bedford Today

Posted: at 11:41 am

Bedfordshire Police and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have carried out targeted visits at two premises in Luton as well as car washes in Bedford and Biggleswade today.

The visits follow an operation carried out by Bedfordshire Police in April around a week of action targeting modern slavery.

A number of potential issues around the national minimum wage, employment classification and VAT were identified, with further enquiries by HMRC now due to take place.

Superintendent Dave Cestaro, Bedfordshire Polices director of intelligence, said: Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime and, sadly, we know that it still takes place here in Bedfordshire.

From car washes and nail bars through to logistics, warehouse and construction businesses; we know that vulnerable people in particular are at risk from unscrupulous bosses involved in organised crime.

We are delighted to have been able to work with HMRC on Anti-Slavery Day and will continue to work with all our partners to protect vulnerable people from being exploited.

A HMRC spokesperson said: HMRC is committed to working with other agencies to end illegal working practices in the illicit economy, and clamp down on any unlawful employment conditions for legal migrants and other workers.

We share intelligence and coordinate prevention and compliance to tackle local risks.

Last year 262 potential victims of modern slavery were referred into the national referral mechanism in Bedfordshire the fifth-highest of all UK police force areas.

Sexual exploitation, such as being trafficked and forced to work in the sex industry, and forced labour are the two most common forms of modern slavery dealt with by Bedfordshire Police.

The force is also increasingly coming across so-called criminal exploitation, where both children and adults are forced to work by gangs involved in drug dealing.

Anyone who suspects someone is at risk of modern slavery can contact police on 101 or via the online reporting centre on the Bedfordshire Police website.

They can also speak to the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700.

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Car washes targeted across Bedfordshire in fight against modern slavery and exploitation. - Bedford Today

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New forms of modern slavery – The News International

Posted: at 11:41 am

New forms of modern slavery

While the worlds nations seemingly outlawed slavery and servitude under the UDHR in 1948, it not only exists today but also generates an annual profit of $150 billion, as estimated by the ILO.

The 1973 constitution of Pakistan also prohibits slavery in all its forms. Bonded labour, a special case of slavery involving indebtedness, is also forbidden since 1992 as well as under the penal code.

The 2018 Global Slavery Index estimated the number of victims of modern slavery in Pakistan as 3.19 million. In terms of absolute numbers, Pakistan is ranked third (out of 167 countries) in this index after India (7.99 million) and China (3.386million).

Modern slavery refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception. It is an umbrella term which includes forced labour and forced marriages. The term is a kind of misnomer since slavery has always existed and never really disappeared. In a 2017 report, the ILO estimated that there are more people trapped in slavery today than ever before in history; a whopping 40 million of which 25 million are in forced labour.

Modern slavery in Pakistan is generally assumed to be prevalent in brick kilns, garment factories, rice and cotton fields, domestic work, human trafficking and begging. There is one more part of modern slavery which has not yet been captured by the labour force surveys.

This is workers in the gig or platform economy. The gig economy is based on deception, selling a dream, a mirage much like human traffickers do! The gig economy allows the hiring of individuals as partners or independent contractors for different kinds of work (online work or work on demand via apps, where the worker has to be physically present at the place) through multitudes of digital labour platforms.

Employment-related benefits in all labour law regimes require subordination in an employment relationship. As soon as a worker is declared independent contractor, s/he loses eligibility for nearly all kinds of employment benefits.

The gig economy plays in this grey area which is not yet regulated. Carefully observing the employment practices of these digital labour platforms, it appears as if the gig economy revolution is fuelled by exploitation with workers aka independent contractors left to fend for themselves.

Practices that are part of the gig economy have always existed with different names like temporary employment, part-time employment, disguised employment and dependent self-employment. These are generally referred to as non-standard employment practices.

But how does this deception occur? It happens by promising the workers a relief from the drudgery of 8am-5pm job. It starts with the clich phrase of No shift. No boss. No limits. The gig economy propagates the gospel of independence, flexibility and freedom which is well received by the younger generation looking for enriching and rewarding opportunities while maintaining their autonomy.

The various digital labour platforms promote the concept of supplementing your income by just hitting the button on the app and getting to work. However, with time, it has increasingly become clear that workers in the gig economy especially those in transportation services are there to earn their livelihoods (and the on-demand work is their main or only source of income), not just to supplement their incomes. It was publicised through survey results that gig economy workers preferred flexibility over being a worker under the archaic labour legislation.

A similar survey done by a Pakistani rights organization claimed that those working with transportation platforms preferred flexibility instead of being identified as employees. However, as new research has already indicated, such questions do not yield the response of workers favouring flexibility when flexibility means loss of job security, various kinds of benefits including leaves, compensation in the event of workplace accidents and social protection. Moreover, a huge percentage has chosen this flexible work out of necessity instead of choice.

The invisible hand of the algorithm works perfectly when it rewards a high-performing independent contractor or simply removes/deactivates him/her from the platform for getting lower ratings from customers. Due to the stiff competition both in online and on-demand work, there is a race to the bottom with working hours averaging 12 hours per day, reduced wages and stripping workers of all those protections which were available to a standard worker.

Employment legislation in Pakistan and elsewhere has not kept pace with the digital revolution. The Ehsaas Strategy also refers to employment creation through promotion of start-ups and freelancing opportunities in the country. However, unless gig economy work is regulated, workers, which include millions of youth, will remain deprived of their rights.

Universal labour guarantees or critical labour protections, namely fundamental labour rights, an adequate living wage, limits on maximum working hours and protection of health and safety at workplace, must be available to all irrespective of their employment status. The state of California finally led the way by enacting a law in September 2019 which regulates the gig economy and requires digital labour platforms to reclassify their workers as employees instead of independent contractors.

Job creation alone wont help. Gig work must be transformed into decent work by regulating it instead of the current laissez faire approach. Many would argue that regulation will kill the nascent digital economy and start-up ecosystem in the country. However, a business which survives only by exploiting and depriving workers of their due rights just by misclassifying them as independent contractors must not be allowed to flourish.

The writer is the founder of the Centre for Labour Research. Email: [emailprotected]

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Despite the Modern Slavery Act, poor labour conditions are prevalent in the fast fashion industry – PoliticsHome.com

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm

British people are Europes fast fashion addicts. Consumption of new clothing is estimated to be higher in the UK than any other European country, and manufacturers are in engaged in an unceasing floral-printed arms-race to satisfy that demand.

Earlier this year the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)investigated the social and environmental impact of disposable fast fashion. For the fashion industry, the report was damning.

Describing the way that we make and use clothing as unsustainable, the report attracted headlines for its focus on the environmental damage caused by fashion that people perceive as disposable.

Companies like ASOS and Boohoo came under criticism for their focus on saving money in the production process rather than sustainability, but the undeniable truth is that they are simply responding to public demand. Last year Boohoo released a range of 5 dresses, and despite howls of anguish from campaigners and competitors, the range has proven immensely popular with the companys millennial target market.

Modern Slavery

The cost is more than just environmental, however. The EACs report emphasised that forced labour was still present in contemporary supply chains, expressing particular concern about the use of child labour and prison labour.

Arguably most concerning was the comparatively high awareness of poor labour conditions within garment-making the globalisation of production has also to led to an apparent globalisation of indifference. The forced labour within cotton production can be found in far-off Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, whereas Anti-Slavery International campaigner Kate Elsayed-Ali also highlighted the Sumangali system practiced in India to illustrate the often gendered nature of forced and child labour.

Tempting though it might be, however, to dismiss modern slavery as an overseas problem, to do so would grossly mischaracterise the situation.

A Made in the UK label may assuage the worries of concerned consumers, but the Committee noted the open secret that there were British factories paying wages well below the legal level. Leicester has the dubious honour of being Britains fast fashion capital, with a number of garment factories paying staff well below the minimum wage, often in illegally sub-standard working conditions.

The fact that such practices have a presence in the UK may surprise some observers. The much-vaunted Modern Slavery Act contains a clause relating directly to transparency in supply chains; businesses with a turnover of more than 36m required to produce a statement setting out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chain.

The Government believes that this is sufficient, claiming that the Act has increased transparency in supply chains. However, concerns have been raised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the Government does not monitor whether statements made under the Modern Slavery Act comply with the legislation and the Government has never used its powers to penalise companies that do not comply.

Compliance is far from universal - research at Leeds University identified 24 leading retailers, including Foot Locker and Valentino, who are non-compliant with the Modern Slavery Act by not making available their modern slavery statements as of December 2018.

Governmental Response So Far

Despite the EACs damning conclusions, May this year saw the Government respond with comparative indifference. They rejected each of the reports recommendations, pointing out their commitment to the rising minimum wage and the actions of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

On the topic of public procurement, the official response to the report highlighted that bidders for Government contracts are now required to show their compliance and the Government believes these measures are sufficient to root out Modern Slavery within the context of public contracts.

Behavioural change was another area in which the Government claimed to be acting proportionately. They noted a series of events held in the UK to boost environmental awareness and insisted that children were educated on the topic of sustainability throughout their school lives.

Chair of the Committee Mary Creagh was withering in her criticism of the Government response, claiming that Ministers had failed to acknowledge the severity and urgency of the environmental crisis. She repeated her calls for greater transparency within the supply chains of big fashion companies and accused some of them of flouting the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

The Future Direction of Policy

Of course, much has changed since the summer, with a new Prime Minister, a new Cabinet and a new set of political priorities. The Government has responded to growing public concerns about the climate crisis by emphasising their environmental record but have, so far, remained comparatively reticent in the area of sustainable fashion.

More action has been seen in combatting low domestic wages - over Conference season, the Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a dramatic increase in the minimum wage, taking it to two-thirds of median earnings by April 2024, for all workers aged 21 and over.

However, campaigners have warned that this may prove ineffectual in the case of fashion supply chains, due to the disproportionately globalised nature of the work force and the fact that some British factories have been flatly ignoring the existing rules for many years.

Only four years after the landmark Modern Slavery Act, there remains a clear prevalence of unsustainable environmental and social practices in the sector. Ultimately, this is unlikely to change dramatically until it becomes politically expedient for it to move up the agenda, and, given the overwhelming sense of indifference towards the issue amongst the general public, this seems a long way away.

If your organisation needs to keep abreast of political and policy developments, Dods Monitoring can offer intelligence to keep you one step ahead. Find our more HERE.

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Despite the Modern Slavery Act, poor labour conditions are prevalent in the fast fashion industry - PoliticsHome.com

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Human trafficking is happening on our doorstep, says head of Sheffield anti-slavery charity – Yorkshire Post

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Friday is Anti-Slavery Day but modern-day slavery is still destroying lives. Grace Hammond speaks to a victim and the charity trying to help her.

Sharon endured the ultimate betrayal. She was enticed to the UK with false promises, then manipulated into a life of slavery by a member of her own family. She came to the Yorkshire and Humber area from Ghana with dreams of becoming an accountant.

My country is beautiful but there are no opportunities for anyone and there is corruption, says Sharon, not her real name, who is now 27. I wanted to be an accountant. I managed to study for an accountancy diploma. But there was no chance of getting any further. I was sat at home, helping my mum and feeling Id just wasted three years of study.

When my cousin, who was living in the UK, told me about her successful life, and promised to help me to get into college near her, I was really excited.

She said I could stay with her and her family and offered to organise my visa and pay for my flight. People will say this sounded too good to be true but I had known her all my life; I trusted her totally.

Sharon moved into her cousins home. She was given a mattress on the floor in the childrens bedroom, but she was told she would need to wait until September to start college, and asked to work in her cousins business in the meantime.

I didnt mind. I felt it was the least I could do to repay her for her kindness, she says. I worked six days a week until late each day, without receiving a penny. I felt very grateful to them. I didnt want to make a fuss. But then I was asked to do the household chores on top of my job, and take the children to school. Without realising it, I had become the familys unpaid servant and totally dependent on them. I would have liked to go out to make friends, but without money it was impossible. I think that was the plan to isolate me. I became less and less confident.

When the cousins business collapsed, there was no escape for Sharon. She was given false identity papers and a job was found for her.

I didnt have a say in it. They told me I needed to do it to pay for my college course, and living expenses while I studied. I could see their point so went along with it. Around her household duties, she worked in a clothing warehouse. She has no idea how much she was earning, her wages went straight into her cousins bank account.

She told me she was saving the money for me. But whenever I asked about applying for my college place, she would tell me I wasnt ready. My English wasnt good enough, I needed to be more settled here. There was always a reason. I had worked at the warehouse for over a year when I asked my cousin how much had been saved for me and where the money was. She got very angry and said I owed her money for the paperwork, my airfare and my room in her house. She always made me feel I should be grateful to her.

Eventually Sharon confided in a friend at the factory, who helped her to get her payment details changed at the warehouse. That meant she would receive her next wage. It would give her the means to escape from her cousin.

I was really frightened; I knew as soon as my wages didnt drop into her account she would realise what I had done. I sneaked out of her house and went to stay with my work friend.

Sure enough, the cousin came to the warehouse and confronted Sharon, then told factory bosses and the police that it was Sharon who had acted fraudulently.

She said I had stolen her documents and identity. My manager called the police and I was put in a cell overnight. They were more interested in the fact that I only had a visitors visa which had expired and reported me to immigration authorities.

A document of deportation was issued and I was terrified. I told them I was the victim and wanted to claim asylum.

As soon as the police released her, she went to ground. With no income and no home, she slept on the sofas of her former workmates for two years.

Eventually she met a man and moved into his home. She told him about her cousin and he took her to a lawyer, who contacted immigration services.

I gave them as much information as I could. I told them my cousin had received all of my wages for over a year.

At an initial assessment for claiming asylum, it was decided there were reasonable grounds to identify Sharon as a victim of human trafficking and was referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) the system by which victims of modern slavery are identified and provided with support. She was given the Salvation Armys specialist support for victims of modern slavery. By this time she had a daughter and her relationship had broken down. The Home Office found them an apartment. I had a place no one could kick me out of. I felt safe.

The Salvation Army introduced Sharon to the Sheffield charity City Hearts. Her City Hearts caseworker gave her emotional support and counselling. She was putin touch with support services for refugees and asylum seekers and a church, where she made friends. Because she is recognised as a potential victim, she is allowed to stay in the UK pending a verdict on her status. It should take 47 days she has been waiting since 2017. She is not allowed to work but has enrolled at catering college and hopes to become a cook. She lives off a weekly allowance of 37.75 from the National Asylum Seeker Service and a temporary additional amount of 27.25 from the NRM.

Amy Harrison, senior anti- human trafficking caseworker at City Hearts, says: Sharon is stuck in the system somewhere and while she waits in limbo, we are supporting her. She is working towards a future, but where that future will be is unknown.

CEO of Sheffield charity City Hearts, Ed Newton, said: People should not imagine trafficking only exists in major cities like London. It is happening right now, on our doorsteps, in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.

According to the charity, latest statistics indicate there are as many as 136,000 modern-day slaves in the UK.

Founded in Sheffield 14 years ago, City Hearts aims to restore the lives of people rescued from trafficking and modern slavery. Nationally recognised for its work with over 2,000 survivors in the last five years, the organisation has grown dramatically to cope with the explosion in trafficking in 2018 6,993 were referred into the National Referral Mechanism, a 36 per cent rise from 2017.

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Human trafficking is happening on our doorstep, says head of Sheffield anti-slavery charity - Yorkshire Post

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Nail bars and car washes: Consumers must not ignore modern slavery – HeraldScotland

Posted: at 5:10 pm

WHEN was the last time I washed my own car? I cant remember.

Im sure there are people who enjoy the chore - the routine of it, the pride in the finished result, care given to their pride-and-joy vehicle. No thanks.

Why find space in ones busy schedule for hard labour when for a mere 4.50 you can have five men clean your car til it's glinting?

Well, because if it seems too good to be true then its likely to be too good to be true.

It doesnt take a great deal of deep thought to work out that a 4.50 payment for a hand car wash carried out by five people means those five people are not leaving at the end of each day with a minimum wage pay packet.

More likely, a 4.50 car wash means those five people are being exploited as cheap labour. Possibly they are victims of modern slavery, perhaps they have been trafficked.

But, given the proliferation of hand car washes and the queues at them daily - and nightly, many of the car washes are open long hours - this fact is obviously easy enough for people to turn a blind eye to.

Its interesting that modern day slavery has entered the public consciousness with regards to the clothing industry. We know quite well that our cheap clothes - the 1.50 swimsuit, the 6 pair of jeans - come at a price that is far from economic. There is shock when big name, reputable brands are found to be churning out clothes in factories where workers are paid 50p an hour to toil in squalid conditions.

Boycott, comes the cry.

Just yesterday an expos in the Guardian newspaper alleged that workers in a factory making clothing for the high end active wear brand Lululemon are being subjected to cruel treatment - beatings, verbal abuse and pressure to work overtime. They are paid, it is claimed, around 85 a month, which is less than the cost of one pair of Lululemon leggings.

The company has said it will launch an immediate investigation, no doubt acting swiftly and sharply because it knows the gross ill treatment of Bangladeshi female factory workers will play extremely badly with its middle class, socially aware customer base. Will boycott become the cry for Lululemon?

Yet when poor working conditions exist on our doorstep, we somehow find it easier to overlook.

Nail bars are another consumer convenience where modern day slavery proliferates. They satisfy the desire for a bargain, make you feel good and theres no inconvenience of having to book ahead for an appointment. In the current financial climate, women have less money to spend on beauty treats and so something like a regular manicure is an addictive temptation for some.

But is it ethical to continue to go to a nail bar if you believe you may be participating in exploitation? Its easy for me to ask: the one and only time Ive set foot in a nail bar was accompanying a Police Scotland operation on human trafficking. If I was a woman keen on regular manicures and pedicures, would I be, as with the car washes, uncomfortable but still settling down for a file and polish?

The restructuring of how we shop has created an environment in which it is easy for exploitation to go unchecked. As with nail bars satisfying the need for a quick, cheap treatment, petrol stations are under pressure as consumers find it more convenient to fill up at supermarket petrol pumps rather than make two journeys to two locations.

This means a decrease in the number of mechanical car washes and an increase in vacant space to be taken over by... exploitative hand car washes. Which is not to say that all car washes are exploitative. The UK body the Car Wash Advisory Service has an accreditation scheme, WashMark, that drivers can look out for.

Drivers and nail bar customers can also easily look out for the signs of exploitation: workers who cant communicate with customers in English, where the staff appear withdrawn or very young, where they are living in houses of multiple occupancy.

A high profile court case last week saw four members of a gang found guilty of trafficking young Roma women and girls from Slovakia to Govanhill, to flats just a couple of streets away from where I live. One of the young women was sold into a sham marriage for 10,000 outside a branch of Primark in Glasgow city centre. The story captured readers in high numbers, likely from the shock of having such a heinous crime against such a familiar background.

Yet exploitation is happening all around us and it needs consumers to be alert to the issue in order to tackle it.

The Scottish Government commissioned a public survey this year on public responses to human trafficking. It found that respondents saw the crime as less of an issue in Scotland than overseas. In 2018, 16 per cent of people saw modern slavery as an issue in Scotland, falling to 13 per cent this year.

People were far more likely to believe modern slavery to be an issue in Europe and the rest of the world - showing an awareness of the subject but a belief that it doesnt happen here. Some 58 per cent of respondents admitted to a low level of understanding of human trafficking.

At an event a few years ago I was chatting to a chap who said he owned a handful of car washes at different locations in the west of Scotland. He was quite confident in the ethics of his working practice, saying all his staff earned 40 for a 10 hour day and were given a hot meal at lunchtime.

At the time minimum wage would have been about 6.50 per hour - he was proudly shorting his staff by nearly 40 per cent of their wages. A hot meal though, so his conscience was clear.

The justification he gave to me was the men he employed would otherwise be out of work. With little English, no qualifications and no support networks in Scotland, they would be destitute. He saw exploitation as, in fact, a gift to his staff, a generous springboard into a better life.

That was the last time I visited the hand car wash. Exploiting fellow human beings for the sake of enjoying cheap little luxuries? Theres no excuse.

As consumers we must use our economic power for good.

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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Central Florida’s hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of…

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Were going to revisit a topic from last weeks commentary because its of vital importance. Last week, we told you how the president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Carol Dover, decried the words of attorney John Morgan, who compared Floridas minimum wage to slave wages.

While Morgan is no pauper, its important to note that Dover, whose response diverted attention with empty words about slavery and human trafficking, herself is paid more than $620,000 a year for her job.

As has been widely reported year after year, Central Floridas hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of all major metros in the U.S.

Restaurants, at the behest of organizations like Dovers and lobbyists for hotel and service industries, pay servers as low as $5.44 per hour, not the $8.46 minimum other employers pay, because restaurants are allowed to let servers tips make up the remaining $3.02 an hour.

While tips are an unstable source of income that only serves to keep menu prices low for restaurant owners, working as a lobbyist to keep restaurant employees pay as low as possible is one of the very best ways to get rich in Florida.

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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Central Florida's hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of...

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Regina King on fighting white supremacists in Watchmen: ‘My community is living this story’ – The Guardian

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Regina King had a hard time convincing some of her friends about Watchmen, her new HBO series inspired by the DC comic book of the same name and featuring the kind of details that make some people run for the exits: time travel, kung-fu fighting, masks and thinly veiled political allegory. Girl, dont do this, said one friend. King could only smile and agree.

But we would all do well to watch King in anything. At 48, she is in her prime. While filming Watchmen, King won the best supporting actress Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel. For years, she has been turning out quietly devastating portraits in the movies Jerry Maguire and Ray, in the TV show Southland with little public recognition. Now she has her pick of roles. I appreciate winning the Oscar, she says, but thats not the ultimate goal. I should be able to use it as currency moving forward.

King was not familiar with the original Watchmen material, nor the 2009 Zack Snyder movie (her 23-year-old son Ian is more excited about this role than any of Kings previous parts). But once she read the script, she was enthused. In Damon Lindelofs adaptation, the tales 1950s cold-war storyline is spun into a look at the rise of a white supremacist group in a parallel US. King plays Angela Abar, a cop with superhuman fighting skills and an amazing French Lieutenants Woman-style cape: not the kind of part she usually gets.

King, who in a New York hotel room is slight and smiling, powers through the series like a wrecking ball. She tuned into the fantasy landscape pretty quickly, even quibbling with wardrobe over the practicality of each costume. Originally, her mask was so cumbersome it seemed to defy even the tenuous reality of a comic-book tale. I was like, This is not good for the superhero peripheral! I cant see if somethings coming you have to tell me! So our wardrobe designer had a great idea: what if it was painted on? It was hell on her skin, but its dynamite on screen.

Lindelof was co-creator of Lost and the recent HBO hit The Leftovers. Watchmen has that same compelling narrative, the story of men with bamboo torches trying to eliminate black people. In the current climate, this parallel America feels very like the real thing. One of Lindelofs triggers, says King, was Ta-Nehisi Coatess 2014 article for the Atlantic, The Case for Reparations, addressing the unacknowledged fall-out from slavery. She also cites the way policing is happening here in the States with, particularly, black men.

To this end, Watchmen is, oddly, of a piece with Beale Street, Baldwins expos of the split-screen reality in the US between white people and people of colour although Watchmen doesnt seem expressly political to King. With a laugh, she says: Being black, its part of my life. Whats happened is that Trump has just emboldened people. They were always there, feeling the way theyve been feeling, but now, oh my gosh. There are a lot of people white friends I have who have had this wedge in their families. They knew maybe a family member was a little less progressive, but whoa! Now theyre finding out their views were so far apart.

Trump has just emboldened people. They were always there, feeling the way theyve been feeling, but now, oh my gosh

Meanwhile, the idea of white supremacy as a guerrilla force is not exactly fantastical, given the extent such militias play in US history. Its easy to pretend that something didnt exist if youre not talking about it, says King. Within our community, yes, were talking about it all the time, because were living it generation to generation. But for a lot of white Americans, ignorance is bliss. For them.

King grew up in California, and wanted to be a dentist. This was not a passing phase. She loved going to her dentist so much, it seemed for many years to be the only possible career path. I would always hear horror stories about the dentist, but not mine. His dental assistant was his wife, Babe, and she had this white hair that looked like cotton candy. I always looked forward to going. Id floss to impress him. He made the experience fun. He made me understand how important your periodontal situation is. She bursts out laughing. He had a great set of teeth and Babe had a great set of teeth! So whenever I would see people without a great set of teeth Id be like, Ew!

Dont ever live in Britain, I say. Yeah, I know. Again she hoots with laughter. Not a lot of good teeth there.

King had acted in school, but it wasnt until she got to theUniversity of Southern California that it became clear to her not only that dental work wasnt in her future, but that what she should do was drop out to act. It amazes her now that she made this decision with no information to back it up. She simply knew it was the right thing to do, a strong intuition foreshadowing a steeliness that would become apparent 30 years later in her most famous roles. Her parents werent happy. My mom is a teacher and showed her disappointment, she says, but not enough that it made me decide to go back.

She was so young and inexperienced that for years, in roles she took in movies such as Boyz N the Hood and Mighty Joe Young, she had no idea of pay scale, or whether she was receiving a fair income relative to others on set. I wasnt focused on that, she says. It wasnt until I was in my 30s that I even stopped to consider the wage gap. It was something as simple as hearing a male actor say something either about his per diem, or something else and I was like, Wait! Hold up my part is way bigger than yours. No one talked about it in the early days? Well, things have been designed so that we dont.

King has been a supporter of Times Up, the campaign to equalise pay and conditions for women in Hollywood. Thats why this is a pretty exciting time. If Im blessed enough to have a granddaughter, shell come in knowing this is how its going to be. I feel like its diminishing it by calling it a movement. Its witnessing a shift, a life change. Thats how I look at it.

Its hard to convince people there is an audience that wants quiet stories

Crucially, she says, expectations have changed: theres a suspicion that, just as sexual harassment will come back to bite you, so will pay differences. No one wants their filthy past, their dirty little secret, to come out. A lot of people in these positions of power white men dont even realise it was a problem, or something you should feel embarrassed about.

King is glad she had a lot of solid success before she won the Oscar, playing supporting roles in big movies. Ive heard people say, Oh, you were robbed with Jerry Maguire, or Ray. But I dont think I wouldve had an appreciation for the art, in the way I do, if it had happened earlier.

Beale Street was a different experience. Oh, gosh, says King, who found it so personal that talking about it still makes her emotional. Astonishingly, it was the first movie adaptation of a Baldwin novel, a film that remained a quiet, literary piece despite the starriness of its cast and of its director, Barry Jenkins, fresh from his Oscar win for Moonlight the previous year. For King, who played Sharon Rivers, the mother of a young woman whose fiance is wrongly imprisoned for rape, it was everything: a love story, an indictment of the criminal justice system, and part of the vast, untold history of black life in the US. Were in a time when film is so loud and the audience is looking for shocking. Its hard to convince people that there is an audience out there that wants quiet stories.

Being in her 40s, she says, brings a confidence to go against the grain. She has started her own production company, vowing to staff all her projects with a minimum of 50% women. King wonders if she should have kept quiet about that, since she now gets asked about it every five minutes and she has hardly hired anybody yet. But at the end of the day, its holding my feet to the fire.

So does she feel in her prime? For the most part, body-wise, I dont feel different than when I was in my 20s, she says. Only when I hurt something, because it takes so long to get back. But the wisdom and regard for whats important is different now. In my 20s, that I-dont-give-a-fuck attitude is great. It helps you go out on a ledge and let your feet dangle down and not even think about it.

Still, it is nothing compared with the thrill of having better judgment: Being in your 40s and having the wherewithal to know, Yeah, maybe not that ledge. She roars with laughter.

Watchmen is on HBO in the US from 20 October and on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK from 21 October.

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Regina King on fighting white supremacists in Watchmen: 'My community is living this story' - The Guardian

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Car washes in Bexhill, Northiam and Robertsbridge issued warnings over treatment of staff – Bexhill Observer

Posted: at 5:10 pm

Operators of five car washes in Rother have been warned over failures in how they treat their staff, according to a council spokesman.

Inspections by Rother District Council (RDC) found all of them were failing to comply with health and safety legislation or to pay their workers the minimum wage.

Breaches included failure to provide basic safety equipment such as appropriate safety footwear, waterproof clothing and basic eye protection for mixing chemicals, and failure to carry out risk assessments.

The council is highlighting the issue to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day on Friday (October 18), a national initiative aimed at raising awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Cllr Jay Brewerton, district council cabinet member for safer communities, said: People may not realise that modern slavery encompasses exploiting workers by failing to treat them in accordance with the law.

The people who wash our cars work incredibly hard for very long hours and are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage and to be given appropriate workwear to enable them to do their job safely.

Anti-Slavery Day is a good opportunity to highlight this issue and to send a clear message to employers who flout the law and mistreat their staff that well use all powers available to us to ensure they comply.

The council has powers to issue Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to businesses and individuals responsible for persistent unreasonable behaviour that has a negative impact on workers quality of life.

Warning letters a precursor to a formal CPN were issued to operators of five car washes in Rother. These were Dazzle Hand Car Wash and Valeting Service in Terminus Road, Bexhill; Victoria Car Wash in Victoria Road, Bexhill; Johns Cross Hand Car Wash in Battle Road, Robertsbridge; A21 Car Wash in London Road, Hurst Green; and Unigate Car Wash in Station Road, Northiam.

Unigate Car Wash in Northiam has subsequently been issued with a full CPN for failing to comply with the requirements of the warning letter.

Businesses which fail to comply with a CPN are issued with a fixed penalty notice and if they fail to pay can be prosecuted in magistrates court, where a fine of up to 20,000 can be issued.

Modern slavery includes a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.

More information about modern slavery and how to report it is at http://socsi.in/TidxC.

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Car washes in Bexhill, Northiam and Robertsbridge issued warnings over treatment of staff - Bexhill Observer

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Revive Fashion Show combats human trafficking, fast-fashion – UW Badger Herald

Posted: at 5:10 pm

The verb revive means to restore to life or consciousness or to regain life or strength. The first-ever Revive Fashion Show on Oct. 6 did exactly that.

Hosted and sponsored by Fair Indigo, an ethical and sustainable clothing company based in Madison, all of the proceeds from the show benefit the Dressember Foundation.

Dressember, a non-profit organization founded by Blythe Hill, provides education, life skills, training, medical treatment and aftercare to the survivors of human trafficking. Hill initially started to hear about human trafficking in 2005 when she learned that slavery continues to exist in every city in the world, including all fifty states.

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According to the foundation, approximately 35 million people are currently confined to slavery, 70% of them being women. This is becoming the worlds fastest-growing criminal industry and its flourishing. Because of what we know as fast fashion in the clothing industry, society is purchasing 400% more clothing today than we did 20 years ago.

Not only this, but the workers making these clothes earn just 1-3% of the retail price of an item. Statistics such as these are what inspired the Revive fashion show to come to fruition.

We at Fair Indigo really realized how Dressember and Fair Indigo have been combating this issue separately and in different ways for years, Stacy Imhoff, a co-organizer for the Revive Fashion Show, said. We thought it was a great opportunity to get our two like-minded organizations together to bring more awareness to the issue of ethical and fair trade fashion.

As a graduate of the University of Wisconsins textile and apparel design program, Imhoff approached other women who had also graduated from the program in addition to harmonious brands and businesses within the community. The event had a mix of different brands, vendors and models participating, all of which were proponents of ethical fashion.

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At this family-friendly event, vendors were eager to educate the public about the benefits of this cause.

A pop-up market before the show featured handmade ethical goods from makers and brands around the area, where a portion of the proceeds would go towards the Dressember Foundation.

Here, guests of the event were immediately engrossed in an environment full of passion and enthusiasm to inform individuals about the cornerstone of Fair Indigo and Dressember: ethical fashion.

Ethical fashion the exact opposite of slave labor that is employed to make cheap fast-fashion clothing is what Fair Indigo is all about, Imhoff said. We pay the people who make our clothes a fair, living wage and ensure they have clean and safe working conditions and are treated with respect.

These brands intend to stray away from the expectation of inexpensive and disposable clothing, which causes a high demand for cheap labor.

[Cheaply made clothing] also results in more waste more clothes are thrown away or donated to second-hand shops that are then exported to other countries for resale or disposal. If we can find a way to reuse what we already have, there is less demand for cheap labor. Plus its just generally better for our environment too, Imhoff said.

One stand at the market was home to Lev Apparel company where founder Krystle Marks said she employs women from New Delhi, India at a fair living wage to make clothing. This pulls the women out of poverty while empowering them to contribute to a product with a purpose.

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Following the pop-up market, guests gathered around the runway to witness models dressed in unique, fashion-forward, recycled garments. Models wore pieces made of everything ranging from neckties to mens collared shirts to old tablecloths.

Fabric that was otherwise deemed unwearable was converted into hand-painted art. The oohs and ahs were audible as each piece was presented and smiles lit up the room.

We at Fair Indigo see this as a community-building event to bring like-minded organizations and people together around a common goal, Imhoff said in response to her hopes for the fundraiser. Its been a really fun event to organize and see how excited people are to participate.

What started as a style challenge for a college student in need of a creative outlet ultimately became a global campaign stretching across over 115,000 supporters, 45 countries and six continents and continues to grow. As the Dressember Foundation website says, Dressember is more than a dress.

Join thousands of advocates around the world by wearing a dress or tie every day this December as a symbol of liberty and empowerment to declare inherent dignity for all people, a line from one of the videos played during the fashion show.

According to a video from Dressember at the fashion show, For one month, with a dress as our flag, we will carve a path to a better future for women everywhere.

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