Co-op Party urges government to take action against modern slavery

MPs say hand car washes should be licensed because they are commonly reported sites for exploitation

The campaign against modern slavery continues, with Labour/Co-operative MPs adding their voice to a call for the compulsory licensing of hand car washes.

These have been commonly reported as a risk area for exploitation, prompting the demand for action from MPs alongside police, crime commissioners, council leaders and city mayors.

Co-op Party MPs Geraint Davies and Alex Sobel were among those to sign the latter, sent on the fourth anniversary of the passing of the Modern Slavery Act.

The letter revealed recent findings from the Environmental Audit Committee which point to a “spectrum of exploitation” at hand car washes.

“Across the UK modern slavery is happening in plain sight and we can take action to prevent it,” it said.

“Though not all hand car washes breach employment, taxation, health and safety and environmental regulations, the committee found there was widespread and flagrant rule-breaking across the country.”

According to the letter, the committee’s findings showed that hand car washes are the most commonly reported sites to the Modern Slavery Helpline; that there is underpayment of the national minimum wage by an estimated 15%; and that workers suffer poor working conditions and exposure to harmful and toxic substances.

“Local councils can be part of the solution to tackle modern slavery,” added the letter, “and over 80 councils have already signed the Co-operative Party’s Charter against Modern Slavery. With experience of licensing, the right framework and funding, councils can help tackle non-compliance in their area.”

Related: A fifth of Brits unaware of modern slavery, Co-op research shows

“We support the proposal by the director of labour market enforcements and endorsed by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee for the compulsory licensing of hand car washes to be introduced.”

See the full list of signatories on the Co-op Party website.