Sustainable Supply Chains – Tackling Modern Slavery in Wales with Supply Chain Transparency

Stuart Davies Founder & Owner of Sustainable Supply Chains Ltd                                                      10th April 2017

The abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century suppressed this barbaric trade in one form. However, the twenty-first century has its own versions, forced labour, human trafficking, sexual exploitation – all involve enslavement and exploitation and all are alive and well.

One of the challenges in tackling the practice is its existence in supply chains. In an increasingly interconnected world it is difficult to know whether a product or service is, in some indirect way, dependent on slave labour.

To remedy this, section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires all companies and groups with a turnover of over £36m to ‘prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. These are then published on their websites.

Although the Act requires all companies and groups with a turnover of over £36m to ‘prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement, other organisations with a turnover below the £36m threshold are showing an interest in following suit. These includes many public-sector bodies who are becoming more conscious of the need to fight modern slavery.

Transparency in supply chains starts with transparency of actions taken and the Sustainable Supply Chains diagnostic tool will enable you to measure how well positioned you are to embed your commitment to eliminating modern slavery from your Organisations commissioning, procuring and grant processes.  The diagnostic will help you identify:

The key areas to successfully address in eliminating instances of modern slavery.

Where your organisation is in terms of the elimination of modern slavery

Specific gaps to successfully embed procedures to successfully eliminate modern slavery from existing practices

Specific areas where Sustainable Supply Chains may be able to support you


Slavery and Wales

Subjugation and oppression in Wales are terms traditionally associated with the treatment Welsh natives endured at the hands of the Romans, and later, the invading Normans and Anglo-Saxons. Yet Wales, like many regions in Europe, played its own part in the enslavement of Africans and its industries actively contributed to the slave trade – the blood money of which helped change the Welsh landscape when they were invested in new industries and lavished on country mansions. Slave Wales: The Welsh and Atlantic Slavery is a new book which explores unchartered waters in Wales’ murky past. The reader is taken on a journey from Anglesey to Trinidad and covers the years 1650 to 1850, from Wales’ more sinister involvement in slavery to its pivotal role in abolishing it. The book explores numerous facets of the slave-system, bringing to light previously unknown episodes, such as the Welsh involvement in slave-based copper mining in 19th century Cuba, the woollen industry and Welsh engagement in the Atlantic slave-trade which lasted well beyond the 1807 abolition of slavery in Britain and the ending of Britain’s Caribbean empire in 1834.

Today we live in a different world but face modern day versions of slavery from forced labour to human trafficking and sexual exploitation – all involve enslavement and exploitation, and all are alive and well.

In a push for further transparency in the Welsh public sector supply chains the Welsh Government have launched a Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains.

The Welsh public sector spends around £6bn every year on goods, services and works involving international supply chains and want to ensure good employment practices for the millions of employees.

To this end, the Welsh government is attempting to encourage all organisations to become more aware of modern slavery. At the launch for the Code of Practice Mr Drakeford said: ‘I expect all public sector bodies in Wales, Welsh businesses and suppliers to the Welsh public sector to sign up to this code. It is only by working together that we can help deliver a better, and crucially, a fairer deal for workers in our supply chains in Wales and throughout the world.

Start the process now, take the test and begin your journey to ensure your end-to-end supply chains are slavery free.