Skip to content Skip to main menu
Abstract image of a wooden ceiling, star shaped mouldings

World Anti-Slavery Day: Morgan Sindall Construction signs up to new ethical labour commitments


Morgan Sindall Construction has joined forces with six other leading contractors as part of an initiative overseen by public sector authority SCAPE in order to reaffirm its commitment to eradicating modern day slavery in the construction industry to mark World Anti-Slavery Day 2021 (18th October).

SCAPE has brought together Morgan Sindall Construction, Balfour Beatty, Kier, Willmott Dixon, Mace, Sisk and McLaughlin & Harvey to make a joint pledge to increase their efforts to tackle unethical supply chain practices and boost employment opportunities for survivors of modern slavery.

The pledges will see independent 24/7 modern slavery helplines established across SCAPE projects to support victims and whistle-blowers in reporting concerns or incidences. Representing a buying power of £18bn, SCAPE is currently performance managing more than 1,800 live, taxpayer funded projects across the UK, and is committed to ensuring that every project is delivered with ethical labour.

The pledge has been informed by an Ethical Labour Working Group managed by SCAPE operated under the advice of global supply chain organisation ACHILLES and Mark Heath of Mercaston Solutions, a consultancy advising businesses on modern slavery and a former deputy director at the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

More than 10,000 people in the UK have been identified as potential victims of modern slavery, according to the Home Office’s latest annual figures, although the total number is likely to be much greater. Reports of suspected modern slavery cases in construction were higher than in any other industry during the first Covid lockdown, according to figures from modern slavery charity Unseen.

The profound impact of human trafficking was underlined to the group when they heard directly from a survivor of modern slavery, now employed by Radiant Cleaners, a Nottingham based social enterprise. The survivor, who chose to remain anonymous, spoke to the group about his experience and the rehabilitation he received from the Salvation Army. Employed since by Matt Parfitt of Radiant Cleaners, he has been able to begin rebuilding his life, and his story showed the very real cost that sits behind headline industry figures.

The firms involved will also increase their engagement with social enterprises who support survivors of modern slavery through SCAPE’s Social Partnership Portal, which was launched last month. The new digital platform will enable industry to engage with an extensive network of socially focused and accredited suppliers, increasing the employment opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery.

The Ethical Labour Working Group founded by these organisations will collaborate in creating industry best-practice guidance in relation to workforce engagement and labour audits.

Simon Arnott, director of procurement & employee relations, said: “Whilst Morgan Sindall Construction and the wider Morgan Sindall Group have made positive progress, it is only though continued focus, collaboration and pooling of resources and intelligence that the construction sector as a whole can take the steps required to eradicate the exploitation of individuals from within our supply chains.
“The impact of the pandemic on modern slavery illustrates that this is a complex, evolving problem and there remains more that needs to be done. By uniting with our industry colleagues through our involvement in the Ethical Labour Working Group and today’s pledge we have moved another step closer to eliminating the scourge of slavery from the industry for good.”
Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE, said: “Modern slavery has no place in an economy as developed as the UK’s, and yet it still maintains a presence in some of our most important industries – construction included. The public sector must always act as a flagbearer in stamping unethical practice out, setting standards and stimulating positive change through the partners it works with.

“As World Anti-Slavery Day reminds us of the increased need for action post-pandemic, the collective power of this group of major contractors in the coming years – combined with best-in-class procurement practices – can go a long way to improving our industry’s record and ultimately lift people out of slavery.”