About the Slavery-Free London campaign
What is the Slavery-Free London campaign?
The campaign aims to draw attention to the risks of human trafficking and forced labour in the UK and overseas associated with the London 2012 Games, and help us ensure that more is done to put a stop to modern slavery in the run up to, during and after the Games.
The Games are about leaving a positive legacy for this country which should go beyond the world of sport in bringing about positive change. The campaign seeks to ensure the risks of slavery in connection with the Games are addressed and managed, more steps are taken to prevent the ongoing exploitation of vulnerable people, and anti-trafficking policy and practice in the UK is strengthened. That way, one of the positive legacies of the Games will be bringing the UK one step closer to eradication of slavery.
Why are we concerned about Modern Slavery and London 2012?
The UK context
Human trafficking and forced labour are ongoing problems in London and the UK, with an estimated 5,000 people trafficked at any one time. But 2012 Games could make the situation worse. International experience from previous sporting and other major events indicates a potential risk of an increase in human trafficking in the host country in the lead up to and during the event.
However, the fact that human trafficking and forced labour are existing problems in London and the UK raises most concern. An event of this size could exacerbate the current situation leading to an increase in exploitation. Research in the UK confirms that industries where trafficking and forced labour are commonly found are those that rely on temporary, low-paid and low-skilled labour. Such industries include construction, cleaning, the restaurant trade, agriculture, food processing and packaging. A mass influx of visitors could fuel a greater demand for cheap, temporary labour in sectors vulnerable to slavery. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has recognised this risk particularly in relation to an increased demand for convenience foods ahead of the Games. Furthermore, it is likely that traffickers will also perceive the potential increase in demand for workers as a unique opportunity to exploit people using the guise of the Olympics to lure people into job that's don't exists only to exploit them elsewhere to increase the profits of their criminal enterprises.
Trafficking also occurs in informal industries – people, particularly children, are forced to beg or commit criminal activities, such as pick pocketing and cash machine theft. Trafficking for forced begging and criminal activities has been documented in the UK - a special Metropolitan Police operation dealt with trafficking of Romanian children to the UK for this purpose. Concerns that such gangs will see the Games as a “business opportunity” have been raised by the police. Traffickers exploiting their victims in this way focus their activities into locations with a large concentration of people, especially tourists, and London, as well as the Olympic locations outside of London, expect large numbers of visitors.
The risks are not just in London. Trafficking and forced labour have been happening across the UK. The Games could fuel a demand for labour in other areas outside of London, for instance in food processing factories, or due to a displacement of labour as the labour force moves to London for potential work. Increased visitors are also expected in other cities hosting Olympic events which will stretch hospitality elsewhere.
Forced labour in Olympic-branded products
The Slavery-Free London campaign is also supporting the Playfair 2012 Alliance’s campaign to raise the bar for workers and ensure that London 2012 branded goods are free from slavery.
Many of the products for sale in Britain are produced by workers overseas, some of whom may have been subjected to forced labour. Slavery occurs in different stages of the supply chain: in the production of raw materials (for example cocoa and cotton farming), manufacturing (such as hand-knotted rugs), and at the final stage when the product reaches the market. Large multinational retailers pressure developing-world suppliers to deliver products cheaply and quickly. The result is exploitation and even forced labour.
Workers overseas will produce most of the kits for Olympic teams, and the sportswear and Olympic souvenirs available on our high streets. Evidence from the 2008 Beijing Olympics documented violations, including forced labour, in the production of Olympic-branded goods. Indicators of forced labour were present including forced overtime (refusal to work overtime leads to financial penalties). Research found workers employed by Adidas suppliers in China earning £20 per month for gluing sports shoes that sell for over £50, and others working 80 hours a week stitching footballs. Adidas is one of London 2012’s main sponsors and licensees. In one factory producing Olympic-branded stationery, children as young as 12 years old were being forced to work 15 hours a day.
What is the response from the Government and relevant authorities so far?
The risks of trafficking in relation to the 2012 Games have been recognised by the Government for several years. The 2007 Home Office Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking recognised the risk not only in relation to trafficking for sexual exploitation, but also in many labour sectors where there will be increased demand for labour in the run up to and during the Games: most notably construction, hospitality, cleaning and catering.
The 2011 anti-trafficking strategy also acknowledges the risk posed by the Games stating that work with international partners is “particularly important as we head towards the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. Monitoring intelligence will help us to respond quickly and appropriately to any potential increased risk of trafficking”. Media reported the warning by the Home Secretary that “The 2012 Games are likely to be a key target for criminal gangs who will look to take advantage of a larger than usual number of visitors heading to the UK”. In a response to questions to the Home Office, the Immigration Minister, Damian Green has said, “Should intelligence indicate an increase in trafficking we shall ensure that the appropriate measures are in place…While evidence does not suggest that there is any increase in human trafficking linked to the Olympics at the moment, we remain vigilant”. Significantly, the Government acknowledges the growing risk of trafficking for labour exploitation stating that, “Historically, most adult victims identified were women trafficked for sexual exploitation. However, recent trends suggest that trafficking for labour exploitation could become more prevalent than other forms of trafficking”.
The Mayor of London and Deputy Mayor for Policing have acknowledged the significant risk posed by the Olympic & Paralympic Games and have made tackling trafficking ahead of 2012 a key part of London’s strategy to end violence against women. In addition, London Councils released a 2011 report in which it acknowledges the concern of many agencies regarding the potential risks.
In relation to the production of London 2012 goods overseas, the Games organisers (LOCOG) have engaged with Playfair 2012 and committed to taking some steps. LOCOG agreed to include adherence to the Ethical Trading Initiative base code in their sourcing code for suppliers of branded goods covering all contracts with their licensees. They consequently must “comply” with these standards, including payment of a living wage, respect for the right to freedom of association and safe and healthy working conditions. This is a big step forward, and the first time this has ever happened for a major world sporting event. Playfair 2012 has also been successful in persuading LOCOG of the need for a complaints mechanism to enable workers in their global supply chains to report any violations of their rights and for these to be investigated and resolved.
What is the Slavery-Free London campaign calling for?
We want to ensure that the Games are a success on all fronts – by eliminating risks of modern day slavery in London and the UK and by ensuring that Olympic goods sold in this country were not produced using slave labour.
Despite the acknowledgment of the increase in labour exploitation in the UK and the potential risk posed by the Olympic & Paralympic Games in 2012, the Government’s latest anti-trafficking strategy fails to include any specific measures to address this. The ‘wait and see approach’ will not help any victims who might be exploited as a result of the Games. That is why preventative measures need to be taken now. Such measures would include:
• The Government publishing a list of companies and their subcontractors contracted to officially deliver the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. This would help protect those who are offered jobs under the pretence of the Olympics and enable them to check whether their job offer is legitimate.
• Ensuring all obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on trafficking to provide assistance and support for trafficked people and to prevent trafficking are met.
Some progress has been made with the London Games organisers responsible for supplier contracts for Olympic goods made overseas. Still, the Slavery-Free London and Playfair campaigns believe LOCOG has some more significant steps to take:
• To disclose the names of suppliers who have won the contracts to supply Olympic branded goods, and their production sites, so that Playfair 2012 can verify that suppliers are abiding by the Ethical Trading Initiative code.
• Disseminate information about the complaints mechanism to workers within the global supply chains.
What other initiatives are taking place?
Anti-Slavery International is not the only organisation concerned about the risks of slavery and the Olympics. Others are too and have joined forces to act.
We are member of the coordinating body of the ‘Human Trafficking and London 2012 Network’ - a London-wide initiative to address human trafficking connected to the 2012 Games, comprised of the Greater London Authority (as part of the Mayor’s response to concerns), Metropolitan Police (SCD9 - Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command), Home Office, Metropolitan Police Association, London Children’s Safeguarding Board and Eaves Housing. The overarching objective of the project is to manage the risk of an increase in trafficking in human beings in the lead up to and during London 2012. The network is undertaking this by coordinating efforts across agencies and the voluntary sector to maximise existing resources and deliver a risk management programme of protection, prevention and prosecution. The Network aims to leave a legacy of increased awareness of the issue of human trafficking; an improved response for victims; and a model of good practice in preventing human trafficking that could be shared with other major cities hosting future major sporting events.
In addition, Anti-Slavery International is also a member of the Playfair Alliance which is leading on work to ensure no exploitation or forced labour is involved in the production of Olympic-branded apparel and merchandise overseas. More information is at www.playfair2012.org.uk.
There are also many others working within their communities to make a difference.
How can you get involved?
Individuals and organisations can support the Slavery-Free London campaign in a number of ways to help ensure the 2012 Games leave a positive legacy of raised attention to the issue of human trafficking and forced labour and action to prevent it. We urge the public to:
• Join the campaign by signing the Slavery-Free London pledge to demonstrate support for tougher action
• Publicise the campaign using our materials and social media
• Engage further support by writing to local MPs and councillors to highlight the campaign and ask for greater attention to the issue.
The eyes of the world will be on London during the summer of 2012. Let’s make sure it’s Slavery-Free!