On Thursday 26 March, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was passed into law. ETI welcomes the Act and applauds the British government for passing this important piece of legislation. The Act is the first of its kind in Europe, and one of the first in the world, to address slavery and trafficking in the 21st century.
ETI and our members have actively engaged with the UK government during the past year to help shape this legislation. In September, ETI and the BRC wrote a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a clause on how British business should play its part in tackling modern slavery. In this letter and further briefings, we highlighted the merits of other legislative measures, including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. We were delighted that, subsequent to our engagement, the government included a Transparency in Supply Chains clause.
In addition to this, we called for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to have its powers extended, so that it can investigate, monitor and regulate labour providers in all sectors (not just food and agriculture). We are pleased that there will be a review of the role and remit of the GLA within the coming year. ETI played a key role in establishing the GLA and we stand ready to support such a review.
The Act also establishes an independent Anti-slavery Commissioner to provide oversight of the Act in support of victims of modern slavery and to drive accountability and coordination of action across government. The newly appointed Anti-slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland OBE, will enjoy our full support.
ETI and our members will do whatever is in our power to support implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. We are currently engaging with the government consultation on how the Transparency in Supply Chains clause will be applied to businesses. We see the Act as important progress in much-needed efforts to protect and respect workers and to prevent modern slavery in global supply chains. There is an urgent need for vulnerable workers to have greater access to remedy, have their voices heard and take collective action against abuse and exploitation in the workplace. The UK has taken a step in the right direction towards achieving this.