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Minister launches leaflet to help people escape forced labour

Stephen Farry and Sinead Mulhearn

DEL Minister Dr Stephen Farry has launched Law Centre (NI)'s Problems at Work? leaflet.

The Law Centre produced the pocket-sized multilingual leaflet signposting help and advice for people who fall prey to forced labour and labour exploitation in Northern Ireland. The leaflet aims to raise awareness and address some of the barriers to coming forward for help.

53 potential victims of modern slavery were discovered in Northern Ireland last year.  Over two third were cases of labour exploitation*. Information campaigns - in the general public, in trade unions and in the business community - are known to be key to tackling this hidden problem.

Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry said:“I welcome the launch of this leaflet as a very positive step in increasing awareness of Labour Exploitation.  I commend the Law Centre on the simplicity of the messages in the leaflet and the clear signposting which will hopefully assist and encourage workers who are suffering abuse to come forward with their concerns.  The leaflet is an important step in tackling labour exploitation and forced labour in Northern Ireland.”

Law Centre (NI) Director Glenn Jordan said: “At the Law Centre, we have been dealing with cases of people forced to work in agriculture, food processing and the fishing industry, or exploited in domestic service. We know it’s just the tip of the iceberg as these people are usually unaware of their rights and fearful about coming forward. It’s important for the public to learn to recognise the signs so exploited people can get the help they need.”

The leaflet was funded by Belfast City Council Policing & Community Safety Small Grants Scheme. It will initially be distributed through libraries, rural and community networks, GP surgeries and the PSNI, in the hope that it will reach those who need it.

It is available for download at www.lawcentreni.org/Publications/Forced-labour-leaflet-2015.pdf or to obtain free copies to distribute, write to Law Centre (NI), 124 Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2GY.

* National Crime Agency Statistics

In Northern Ireland, 53 cases were referred to the National Referral Mechanism in 2015, including: labour exploitation: 31; sexual exploitation 11; domestic servitude 3; unknown: 7. 

In 2014, a total of 2,340 potential victims were uncovered UK-wide but the Home Office estimated that there could be between 10,000 - 13,000 victims of modern slavery throughout the UK



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