Labour councillors on Medway Council challenged the Tories at last week’s Council meeting to do everything they can do to tackle modern slavery in Medway with a motion backing a ten-point Charter.
Created by the Co-operative Party, the Charter has been adopted by over 80 councils in England and Scotland including Tory bastions like Surrey, Suffolk and Gloucestershire County Councils.
Unfortunately the ruling Conservative group decided to amend the motion which effectively deleted the name ‘Co-operative’ and accept the 10 points in their own name.
Cllr Dan McDonald, Councillor for Gillingham South and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Planning who proposed the motion said, ‘Modern slavery is a heinous crime and we have a moral duty to taxpayers to ensure that none of their money goes into the pockets of people who profit from human misery.
‘That is why I called on the Conservatives in Medway to put politics aside for an evening and support our motion to eliminate modern slavery from the Council’s supply chain. Between June and September 2018 (the last available figures), there were 31 instances of suspected modern slavery in Kent.
‘The Archbishop of Canterbury chose Medway to launch the Church of England’s Modern Slavery initiative back in October and we can play our part in ridding Medway of modern slavery by adopting the Co-operative Party’s Charter on Modern Slavery.
‘Unfortunately, the Tory administration chose to be extremely petty and small-minded and treat this serious issue like some kind of play toy. Modern slavery is happening in Medway and we should be doing everything we can to protect those who are suffering.’
Cllr Alex Patterson, Councillor for Rochester West, who seconded the motion said:
‘This mean-spirited and utterly pointless amendment shows how pathetic, spiteful and partisan the Medway Conservatives have become.
‘The Labour Group will continue to fight against their astoundingly tone-deaf approach to this and other important social issues.’
The motion reads as follows:
Modern slavery is a hidden issue; the Home Office estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. This means that there is a chance that modern slavery is taking place here in Medway without our knowledge.
This council welcomes the recognition of this issue by the Archbishop of Canterbury on his recent visit to Medway.
This council notes the hard work of the Co-operative Party, local Government procurement teams, and NGOs to develop a new charter which aims to ensure there is no place for modern day slavery in the supply chains used by local authorities.
This Charter proposes that each council shall:
- Train its corporate procurement team to understand modern slavery through the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s (CIPS) online course on Ethical Procurement and Supply.
- Require its contractors to comply fully with the Modern Slavery Act 2015, wherever it applies, with contract termination as a potential sanction for non-compliance.
- Challenge any abnormally low-cost tenders to ensure they do not rely upon the potential contractor practising modern slavery.
- Highlight to its suppliers that contracted workers are free to join a trade union and are not to be treated unfairly for belonging to one.
- Publicise its whistle-blowing system for staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.
- Require its tendered contractors to adopt a whistle-blowing policy which enables their staff to blow the whistle on any suspected examples of modern slavery.
- Review its contractual spending regularly to identify any potential issues with modern slavery.
- Highlight for its suppliers any risks identified concerning modern slavery and refer them to the relevant agencies to be addressed.
- Refer for investigation via the National Crime Agency’s national referral mechanism any of its contractors identified as a cause for concern regarding modern slavery.
- Report publicly on the implementation of this policy annually.
This council resolves to:
Adopt the Co-operative Party’s Charter against Modern Slavery.
For more information about the Charter: https://party.coop/local/councillors/modern-slavery-charter/
Link to National Crime Agency modern slavery data for June to September 2018: http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2018-nrm-statistics/973-modern-slavery-and-human-trafficking-national-referral-mechanism-statistics-july-to-september-2018/file
"The Archbishop of Canterbury chose Medway to launch the Church’s Modern Slavery initiative back in October and we can play our part in ridding Medway of modern slavery by adopting the Co-operative Party’s Charter on Modern Slavery" Cllr Dan McDonald, Councillor for Gillingham South and Medway Labour Spokesperson for Planning
"The Labour Group will continue to fight against the small minded, politically charged, and astoundingly tone-deaf approach Medway Tories take towards important social issues." Cllr Alex Patterson, Councillor for Rochester West