Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has described CN’s investigation into modern slavery as a “shocking indictment” of worker exploitation.
She was responding to CN’s revelations that sites across the UK are complicit in the exploitation of undocumented workers – the majority of which are from overseas.
“This report is a shocking indictment of the exploitation of workers,” Ms Abbott said.
“The government is not doing anything like enough to enforce either our laws against modern slavery, or even more basic laws protecting the minimum wage or health and safety at work.”
The shadow home secretary claimed that government cuts may have impacted the response to the issues raised in CN’s investigation.
“All the agencies that could be tackling these abuses have had their funding slashed since 2010, including the police, who have lost 21,000 officers due to Tory austerity,” she said.
Labour’s shadow home secretary made the remarks ahead of a private members’ bill on modern slavery – due to be heard in the Commons today.
The legislation, raised by Conservative peer Lord McColl, is aimed at giving stability to the victims of slavery offences and enabling them to assist with prosecutions, in order to improve conviction rates.
CN’s investigation found that many victims of exploitation are reluctant to take part in prosecutions because of the impact on their ability to provide for their families.
The proposed measures would ensure that all confirmed victims of modern slavery would receive a year’s residence permit and support.
Human Trafficking Foundation head of office Kate Roberts is one of the bill’s supporters.
“For those who are able to work this could mean support into decent employment and an end to the hopeless cycle of exploitation,” she said.
The Home Office announced last month it was writing to 17,000 businesses to remind them of their responsibilities on modern slavery.
Businesses with turnover of more than £36m must publish a modern slavery statement, but it is estimated that only 60 per cent of those in scope have done so.
Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins said: “It is horrible to think some of the goods and services we buy could have been produced by someone forced into modern slavery. This is abhorrent and as global leaders in the fight against modern slavery, we will not tolerate it.”
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.