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Pulling a Thread: Unravelling the Trail of Modern Slavery in the Fashion and Textile Industry

Principal Investigator: Dr Hinrich Voss, Associate Professor of International Business, University of Leeds

Co-Investigators: Dr Mark Sumner, University of Leeds; Dr Matthew Davis, University of Leeds; Dr Louise Waite, University of Leeds

The UN’s Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) 8.7 aims to end forced labour and modern slavery. The ILO estimates that 21mn+ people are in forced labour globally. This project sets out to identify the barriers to addressing modern slavery in the global clothing value chain, understand the motives of suppliers for having forced labour, and suggest solutions for global firms and policy makers. The researchers will work with UK clothing businesses that source from India and Vietnam. Both countries are vulnerable to modern slavery in the agricultural, garment, and textile industries and are important source countries for UK firms. But these countries are also home to small, fragmented and non-integrated businesses making the identification, monitoring, and addressing of modern slavery challenging. Using an intensive case study methodology, the project will help UK firms to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 which requires them to declare annually that modern slavery does not exist in their business and value chain. The research will inform management practices and policies.

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