A FRESH plea to stand up against modern slavery has been issued to Glasgow City Council as local authorities across the UK pledge to prevent exploitation.

At Thursday’s full council meeting, Labour councillor Aileen McKenzie asked the administration to reconsider its stance on signing the Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery.

Ms McKenzie also questioned the city treasurer on what steps the council was taking to ensure that businesses working on behalf of the local authority did not engage in human trafficking.

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She said: “Councils like Glasgow spend billions of pounds every year on procurement of goods and services for our communities, agreeing business with hundreds of different suppliers, big and small. Many firms then have sub-contractors and suppliers of their own too.

“The charter goes further than existing law and guidance, committing councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place.

“The term ‘modern slavery’ captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to forced labour, domestic servitude, and sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation.”

“I fear a sharp rise in victims due to Covid-19. There’s increasing risk of exploitation and abuse as poverty, lack of opportunity and other vulnerabilities are made worse by the pandemic.”

So far, nine Scottish councils are committed to the charter. Glasgow City Council previously objected to signing up to this charter against modern slavery because it concerned England and Wales.

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SNP councillor Ruairi Kelly said: “I do recall the discussions the last time, the council adopts a more expansive approach than the charter envisages.

“I believe that we are best to determine the measures needed to ensure our teams are fair and equitable.

“In terms of the procurement process we need to ensure any bidder meets our requirements before they be considered for a contract.

“We will ask a number of questions and look for criminal convictions in human trafficking. Any organisation found to have guilty of events under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 will be excluded from bidding for a contract.

“The council focusses on how employees treat staff and ensuring they aren’t exploited through zero our contract. Suppliers are encouraged to pay the real living wage.”