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Slavery a reality in low-wage British economy: Analyst

Modern slavery is a reality in Britain and migrants are being increasingly recruited to low-paid jobs to propel the British economy, an analyst says,

Britain was highly dependent on a low-wage migrant work force, a phenomenon which has given birth to a form of modern slavery in the country, Chris Bambery, a political activist and author, said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday.

“The emergence of slavery in Britain is a direct product of what happens in the labor market which depends on a low-wage economy, but (also) depends on high levels of migrant labor,” Bambery, said.

The expert said that like many other countries, migrants working in Britain were deprived of sufficient protections against potential exploitation.

He said in most cases, the workers are unable to report abuses to police because employers hold their passports or they are held in conditions where they could not move.

“There are not checks in police to ensure that these migrants are not exploited.”

A global survey released Thursday showed that about 136,000 modern slaves were living in Britain, a figure 10 times higher than government estimates that points to emerging forms of slavery.

The 2018 Global Slavery Index (GSI), compiled by rights group Walk Free Foundation, said about one in 500 people in Britain were trapped in modern-day slavery on any given day in 2016.

The government estimated in 2013 that only about 13,000 people in Britain were modern-day slaves — trapped in forced labor, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude — while the police have said there are likely to be tens of thousands.

Britain has been regarded as a global leader in the fight against trafficking since passing the 2015 Modern Slavery Act to fight a crime estimated to raise annual profits of $150 billion.

Yet activists say Britain has not yet made a serious dent in the illicit trade, and the country this week launched an inquiry into its anti-slavery efforts, citing concerns over the effectiveness of its landmark law and limited victim support.

Forced labor is believed to be rife across Britain's building sites, nail bars, car washes, factories and farms, while a rising number of children are being used by gangs to carry drugs between cities and rural areas, according to police.

“We are still learning about the hidden phenomenon but this new figure indicates the scale of modern slavery,” said Jakub Sobik, spokesman for London-based Anti-Slavery International, of the new GSI report, adding that the increased figure of slavery highlighted in the report showed that new forms of slavery were emerging as a result of the evolving discussion about the issue in Britain.

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