The British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) has praised arrests made at scrapyards in the West Midlands as part of a modern slavery investigation.
Police raided CAP Recycling in Elwell Street, West Bromwich, and sister firm Black Country Recycling in Union Road, Oldbury, on 27 September.
Three men working at the scrapyards were arrested on suspicion of working a group of Polish nationals like slaves and paying them just £1 an hour.
Now the BMRA has said it was “very disturbed” to hear about the alleged crimes and supported the action taken by the police.
Chief executive Robert Fell (pictured below) said: “We fully support the authorities’ drive to seek out companies like these in order to eradicate modern slavery, which is completely unacceptable.
“Moreover, targeting such yards will bring additional benefits because they are also more likely to be operating illegally in other ways such as ignoring environmental regulations and flouting health and safety requirements.”
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The Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires businesses with a turnover of more than £36m to publish a Transparency in Supply Chains statement.
Large waste companies including Shanks and Viridor have published theirs, while some such as FCC and Veolia have said they will publish after their current financial year ends.
Shanks’ statement says: “The company is exposed to relatively low levels of risk with regards to modern slavery within its own business. However, the company is committed to identifying such risk and putting in place appropriate control measures.
“A greater risk is the potential for modern slavery within the company’s supply chains.”
Much of the materials collected by Shanks comes from households so the general public are linked to its supply chain, the statement says, making it “increasingly difficult to monitor”.
“Although the board will continue to support the elimination of modern slavery, the company is unable to intrude upon, monitor or impose any restrictions on the general public,” it said.
Viridor’s statement, issued through parent company Pennon, highlights its use of agency workers.
“Within our business, we use agency labour which is procured through third party providers.
“The providers are responsible for vetting all agency staff and ensuring that they adhere to all legal requirements to protect workers from poor treatment and exploitation.
“We will assess any instances of non‐compliance on a case‐by‐case basis and tailor any remedial action appropriately.
“We will only trade with those who fully comply with this statement or those who are taking verifiable steps towards compliance.”
Veolia said it would publish its statement next year but had already appointed ’executive-level Modern Slavery Act champion’ Kevin Hurst.
Meanwhile, FCC head of legal Carol Nunn said: “As a business, we are conducting a root-and-branch review of our existing policies, procedures and approach to supply chain transparency to identify where we might have exposure to risk.
“I am pleased to say our processes and procedures are being tested and we are committed to ensuring they remain robust.”