Giving modern-day slavery in the construction industry the red card

The serious message underpinning the Construction Cup ‘24 corporate 5-a-side football tournament.

May 23rd will see 20 teams from within the construction industry take to the pitch at Selhurst Park for a day of football, camaraderie and networking. But underlining the fun is a very serious message. The day’s event will shine a spotlight on the shocking truth that slavery and exploitation still exist within the UK construction industry.

Influencing positive change through sport

The Construction Cup ’24 is partnering with Unseen to harness the power of sport to influence positive change and support Unseen and their work towards a world without modern slavery. We believe that football has an unparalleled power to draw important and uncomfortable issues to the forefront of society. This is proven by the successes of high-profile campaigns, such as the Premier League’s ‘No Room for Racism’ and ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign.

Dave Grant, Managing Director of Scitech, says: “Our engagement with the Construction Cup ’24 has inspired us to bolster the anti-slavery sections within our supply chain prequalification and monitoring arrangements. This isn’t merely about compliance; it’s about taking a stand, ensuring our practices reflect our ethos, and leading by example in our industry.”

Modern slavery in construction

According to figures from Unseen’s Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline in 2023, slavery and exploitation continued to rise among the 2 million people working in construction in the UK. The Unseen Helpline Annual Assessment in 2022 identified construction as the second most reported industry for cases of labour exploitation. In total, the sector saw 141 cases reported in 2022 (a 35% increase compared with 2021) and 543 potential victims identified.

Unseen’s mission is a world without slavery. We hope you will help us to transform the construction industry’s response and that one day we can all be proud to work in an industry free from such abuse and exploitation. Through community outreach services and safehouses, Unseen works alongside survivors of modern slavery to help them rebuild their lives and also runs the UK’s Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline. The charity works with businesses, governments, frontline workers and the public to raise awareness of modern slavery and tackle the issue in every sphere of society.

Confidence to speak out

“It is great that Unseen will be providing education for construction workers on how to spot the signs of modern slavery before the tournament. I’m sure everyone who plays at the Construction Cup ’24 will have been to a site at some point in their career and seen possible signs of modern slavery. To then feel confident enough in your instinct to speak out is no small feat. Education is possibly the best tool we have to give construction workers the confidence to speak out,” says Chris Hayward, Mechanical Engineer at Scitech and organiser of the Construction Cup.

Unseen hopes that one day their work will no longer be needed and that together we can stamp out slavery for good, not only in the construction industry but across the UK. The Construction Cup ’24 Team has a vision that, following the tournament, companies across the construction industry will consider the possibility that modern-day slavery could be present in their workforces or supply chains, and make meaningful policy changes to eradicate this from their future.

To find out more email: [email protected]

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