Home Office accused of failing to enforce modern slavery law on fashion industry

23 April 2019

The Home Office has been accused of failing to enforce its own modern slavery law by the international development charity Traidcraft Exchange.


“Many overseas workers supplying well-known British fashion brands toil in conditions of modern slavery,” said Fiona Gooch, Senior Policy Adviser for Traidcraft Exchange.


“But the British Government is not properly enforcing its own Modern Slavery Act because it keeps no central record of what each company is doing to tackle the problem,” added Fiona Gooch.


Timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, Traidcraft Exchange is launching a new campaign to speed up change in the fashion industry.


‘Who made my clothes? Are brands in Britain playing by the rules?’ asks the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid to set up a modern slavery database to track what brands are doing to clean up their acts.


The new initiative complements the work of the Fashion Revolution movement, which uses Instagram to connect consumers with the brands that make their clothes through its #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign.


77% of leading UK retailers believed that there was a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage in their supply chains, according to a 2016 survey.


Yet there is no easy way to establish which companies are taking the problem seriously and which ones are sitting on their hands.


In February the cross-party House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee of MPs recommended that the Government establish a central modern slavery database of companies required to publish a modern slavery statement, after taking evidence from a range of stakeholders.


Traidcraft Exchange’s campaign aims to persuade the Home Secretary to set it up as soon as possible.




For more information or to interview Fiona Gooch please contact Tom Sharman: tom.sharman@traidcraft.org or 07757 753 318


Notes for editors:

  • Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which uses the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty. It runs development programmes in South Asia and Africa, works directly with businesses to improve their supply chains, and does advocacy and campaigning in the UK to promote justice and fairness in international trade. It works closely with specialist fair trade company Traidcraft plc. Traidcraft Exchange is a registered charity, no. 1048752: https://www.traidcraft.org.uk/

  • The ‘Who made my clothes? Are brands in Britain playing by the rules?’ petition can be found here: https://www.traidcraft.org.uk/who-made-my-clothes

  • A 2016 report into Corporate Leadership on modern slavery found that 77% of leading UK retailers believed there was a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage in their supply chains. Cited in Fixing Fashion report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf

  • The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Fixing Fashion report, was published on 19 February 2019 and is available here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf

  • On 24th April 2013 the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring 2,500. Most of the victims were young women making clothes for the international market.

Tom Sharman