Today (Wednesday 18 October) is Anti-Slavery Day in the UK, and the Chartered Institute of Building and Stronger Together are pleased to announce that industry leaders including Saint-Gobain, Westfield and Willmott Dixon will be joining them in spearheading a pioneering collaborative initiative to tackle modern slavery in the construction sector.
Recent figures released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), estimate there are 40m people trapped in modern slavery around the world. UK Prime Minister Theresa May described it as “the greatest human rights issue in the world today.”
Saint-Gobain, Westfield and Willmott Dixon will help shape the initiative that provides construction companies, their clients and sub-contractors with the sector specific guidance they need to address modern slavery and comply with the UK Modern Slavery Act requirements. The construction initiative follows the successful model of Stronger Together’s consumer goods programme, launched in October 2013, which is sponsored by the nine major UK supermarkets.
The programme combines interactive training workshops and practical resources which offer detailed yet pragmatic advice. Included in the resources is an in-depth good practice toolkit and ‘Concrete’ a powerful short film, based on a true story, which highlights the risks of modern slavery within the UK construction industry. Workshops can be booked and resources freely downloaded at www.stronger2gether.org/construction.
Jantine Werdmüller von Elgg, Global Programme Lead, Stronger Together said: “We welcome the leadership of the project sponsors including Saint-Gobain, Westfield and Willmott Dixon to take this key step on the journey to reduce modern slavery in the construction sector. Fundamental to our approach is collaboration and we encourage every business within the industry to join the programme and take advantage of the free resources, training workshops and the opportunity to discuss the challenges and best practice involved in addressing this issue in a safe space.”
Chris Blythe OBE, Chief Executive, CIOB said: “No project is too big or too small to be at the risk of modern slavery and labour exploitation. The commitment shown by these companies demonstrates an enlightened approach and makes good business sense. The industry improves the quality of life for those who use our structures but the process of construction must also protect the wellbeing of those who make it happen, wherever they are in the supply chain and whatever their background. We should not accept anything less and we must work together to achieve it.”
Keith Whitmore, Head of Design and Construction, Westfield UK & Europe said: “Westfield is very proud to be involved in this important industry initiative. Westfield has created close to 100,000 construction jobs through its UK retail developments, and will create thousands more through its future development pipeline. We are committed to help ensure we eradicate modern slavery in the industry and in the UK through educational initiatives.”
Rick Willmott, Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon said, “Sustainability is at the heart of our business and that includes showing leadership in sustainable procurement. We take our responsibility for tackling modern slavery very seriously and that includes taking a collaborative approach with our industry peers. We are therefore delighted to be a project sponsor of this joint CIOB and Stronger Together initiative in the construction sector.”