Major contractors complicit in worker exploitation

Procurement practices at the top of the supply chain are enabling criminals to infiltrate major construction projects undetected, the Chartered Institute of Building is warning.

A new report from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) says that the construction industry is failing to root out worker exploitation, despite recent legislation. Lowest cost tendering, abuse of the retentions system and late payment are pricing ethical practices out of the industry.

It also alleges that blacklisting has not completely gone away.

Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, many companies have introduced immigration checks on their workforce but have failed to go beyond this and tackle the systemic employment abuses that remain prevalent.

The CIOB is urging UK contractors to face up to the significant human rights risks in their supply chains, with the launch of a new report that finds both British and foreign workers at risk of exploitation.

Its report, Construction and the Modern Slavery Act: Tackling exploitation in the UK, is published as the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and National Crime Agency (NCA) jointly lead a national enforcement campaign involving police forces and other agencies aimed at tackling labour exploitation. NCA analysis has identified construction as one of the most common sectors for labour exploitation in the UK.

Criticising the industry’s slow response to the Modern Slavery Act, CIOB’s report highlights the aggressive business models that are creating an environment for unethical procurement and recruitment practices, and the systemic auditing failures that are allowing criminals to infiltrate major projects.

Problems start at the top of supply chains with lowest cost tendering, abuse of the retentions system and late payment pricing out ethical practices. The situation is creating an imbalance of power that leaves all nationalities vulnerable to exploitation. Illegal activities such as blacklisting are also believed to be continuing, despite recent high profile court cases, it says

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