Labour and Co-op councils sign pledge to drive slavery out of their supply chains

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is among those attending the launch which continues the co-op movement's campaign on the issue

Labour and Co-operative councillors will today sign a charter committing them to rooting out exploitation in their supply chains, at a round table event with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Representatives of Labour & Co-op councils across England, including Oxford, Bristol, Lambeth, Waltham Forest and Stevenage, will meet at Islington Town Hall to sign the Co-op Party Charter Against Modern Slavery.

Councils across the UK spend more than £50bn per year on procuring goods and services. The charter, championed by the Co-operative Party, Labour’s sister party, aims to ensure none of that money ends up supporting exploitation or trafficking.

Councils and businesses have a number of obligations under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, but this charter goes further, with a series of commitments to keep supply chains clear of modern slavery, which is estimated to affect at least 4,000 victims across the UK every year.

Councillors will hear from survivors of slavery, alongside leading NGOs and representatives of the Co-op Group, which has been at the forefront of a campaign by the co-op movement to address the issue.

This includes efforts to provide paid employment opportunities for victims and interventions from Labour & Co-operative MPs and peers seeking to guarantee all victims at least 12 months support.

Cllr Andy Hull, signing on behalf of Islington Council, says: “Tackling the scourge of modern slavery ought to be a priority for everyone in the UK. Local government can use its significant purchasing power to take on those who would treat their fellow human beings as modern slaves.”

Related: Modern slavery victim to receive job at Co-op store in Scotland

And Mr Corbyn, who is also MP for Islington North, will add: “As a country we must do more to tackle modern slavery, which blights thousands of lives every year, and councils can play a vital role in ensuring their supply chains are ethical. I am proud that Islington is helping to lead the way and I hope more local authorities will sign up to help us end this injustice.”

Claire McCarthy, general secretary of the Co-operative Party, which is co-ordinating the charter, says: “The co-operative movement has led the way on efforts to tackle modern slavery. with this Charter, Labour and Co-operative councillors are setting a new standard for ethics and transparency in their supply chains.”

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