Six Lithuanians who were trafficked onto egg farms in England are suing their traffickers. They endured slave-like conditions, like being forced to pay “debts” and sleep in filthy conditions with bedbugs and fleas. They were so hungry they had to eat raw eggs, were denied permission to go to the bathroom, and endured beatings – all while their pay was being withheld.
The work itself was gruelling, requiring the victims to spend many hours on their feet during which chickens would scratch and puke on them.
Jacqueline Judge and Darrell Houghton, the owners of the chicken catching company, lost their license, but have reapplied. The forced labour they were using was producing premium free range eggs for McDonald’s and Tesco, among other brands.
This is the first case of a UK company being sued for claims related to modern slavery. An estimated 10,000 to 13,000 people are enslaved in forced labour in the UK.
Read the full articles:
- Lithuanian migrants trafficked to UK egg farms sue ‘worst gangmaster ever’ (The Guardian)
- The Lithuanian ‘slaves’ highlight the holes in Britain’s anti-trafficking strategy (The Guardian)
- Many countries (including the UK) have laws that tie a migrant worker’s permission to stay in the country to their employer. If they leave that employer for any reason, they risk being deported. Fear of deportation keeps many trafficking victims silent while their employers take advantage of their vulnerable status.
- Due to the corporate structure of many global industries, keeping supply chains clean of exploitation is a huge challenge.
- The UK’s Modern Slavery Act, passed earlier this year, is a step in the right direction. But many loopholes must still be filled before migrant workers are safe from exploitation.