29.10.2015 Author: Valery Kulikov

Slavery in Great Britain

453453444It is a known fact that slavery is the first and crudest form of exploitation in history of mankind, where a human (slave) is owned by another human (the master). Colonial powers and especially Great Britain actively participated in the slave trade and the use of slave labor. Though slavery and slave trade are no longer a common practice in the advanced society, they, nevertheless, have not ceased completely.

What’s remarkable is that though slavery was abolished by the international community centuries ago (the last country that abolished slavery legislatively in 1981 was Mauritania), slavery was formally legitimate in the American state of Mississippi until February 2013. What happened was that the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which outlawed slavery and was ratified by the United States Congress in 1865, did not come into effect in this state because of bureaucratic mistakes and, when in 1995 Mississippi authorities ratified the Amendment, they failed to send a respective notification to the US Federal Register.

However, even to this day the topic of slavery and use of slave labor continues to remain on the international community’s agenda, especially in connection with Great Britain. It suffices to mention the latest, end-of-September scandal that flared up right before an official visit of the British Prime Minister to Jamaica — Jamaican official authorities demanded that billions of pounds be paid to them as reparation to victims of several centuries of slavery. They also made a special note of the fact that ancestors of the Head of the country’s current conservative government David Cameron had made fortune trading slaves.

Though British Parliament passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, which outlawed slavery back in 1807 and slave trade was fully eradicated in English colonies in 1833, this topic remains relevant even to this day. And it is especially true in the circumstances when British “businessmen” do not even disguise their eagerness to make money off the refugees coming with the influx of immigrants.

For example, according to the article recently published in The Guardian, the largest British egg producer and sponsor of the Conservative Party, the owner of the DJ Houghton, Darrell Houghton, uses slave labor (PM David Cameron used a helicopter owned by this company during his election campaign). Six migrants from Lithuanians, who worked at the plant in a group of about 30 of their countrymen, became victims of modern slavery while working at the egg processing plant of this company. They filed a lawsuit against their “employers” in Kent County. In an exclusive interview to the newspaper, Lithuanian migrants described inhuman and undignifying conditions in which they had to work: they stayed in filthy places lacking elementary hygiene, did not get food and were exposed to physical abuse. Lithuanians, who usually become victims of modern slavery in Britain, often work for suppliers of premium-class food products, including McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda, M&S, Sainsbury’s, The Happy Egg Company. When searching Houghton’s house in 2012, the police discovered several alleged victims of human trafficking. As the newspaper notes, in 2014 alone 69 Lithuanians presumably became victims of human trafficking in Great Britain, as this country is the most popular destination for immigrants from Lithuania. In ten recent years, about 300 thousand Lithuanians have moved to London and its suburbs in a search for a better life. According to the current population reduction trend, Lithuania is the third most rapidly dissipating country on the planet and is surpassed only by Costa Rica and Latvia (in accordance with data published by the World Bank).

And DJ Houghton is not the only company that employs illegal slave labor in Great Britain. As David Noble, Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply reported to The Guardian, 11% of British companies use slave labor. According to the report of British online news portal International Business Times UK, presumably about 3,000 Vietnamese children are in slavery in Great Britain after smugglers delivered them to the country.

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), today as many as 13,000 people in Britain are victims of “modern slavery, which is roughly 4 times more than the number previously assumed.

In the opinion of the International Business Times UK, the data provided by the British Office for National Statistics proves that the government does not have a slightest idea of how to manage the flow of migrants, which has recently increased. And recent passing of the laws on the persecution of the most vulnerable groups of immigrants, whose slave labor is often used by the UK companies (and according to the latest legislative initiatives of David Cameron and his government, wages of illegal migrants will be classified as “criminal proceeds” and can be confiscated by the police, border guards or courts), is a clear attempt to shut down discussions on this topic. To confiscate little income from people who are working for hours for pennies on the dollar, and contribute to the development of the local economy is particularly cruel and demonstrates incompetence of Cameron’s government. This kind of policy results in criminalization of illegal immigrants, who inevitably fall into the hands of indecent traders, employers and business owners in the UK. Since the new law introducing more strict immigration limitations has become effective, any complaint or report about facts of violation of the immigration legislation will not only lead to the immigrant’s deportation (and it is already practiced), but to a penalization and confiscation of the little money or goods the illegal immigrant possesses. The police will now have to “empty the pockets” and search the houses of the most disadvantaged people. However, in the opinion of IBT UK, the employers of illegal immigrants, i.e., those, who receive profit from illegal slave labor, will never be subjected to criminal prosecution. Implementation of plans on tightening of the immigration legislation and persecution of the poorest immigrants will inevitably lead to the development of new forms of slavery in Great Britain, where people would have no hope to get protection by law.

Valeriy Kulikov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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