Could exploitation be taking place in your local hand car wash?
Hand car wash businesses are increasingly popping up all over London. You may spot one on your way to work, in a disused forecourt or a local car park. While many of these businesses treat and pay their staff fairly, some are run by unscrupulous people, determined to make as much money as possible, regardless of how their workers are treated or whether they are following the law.
Sadly labour exploitation can be present in businesses of all types and sizes. Having said that, the hand car wash sector has consistently been identified as an industry where workers are at risk. In some car washes, staff are under-age, live on site in poor conditions, are paid very low wages, have little or no personal protective equipment, and face a variety of other unsafe, unfair, and controlling practices on a daily basis.
As responsible citizens, it is vital we play our part in eradicating modern slavery and exploitation and one easy way we can do this is by downloading the Safe Car Wash App. The App was developed and funded by The Clewer Initiative, the Church of England’s modern slavery response, and it has been downloaded more than 32,000 times since its launch in 2018.
How the Safe Car Wash App works
The Safe Car Wash App asks users a series of questions related to the indicators of modern slavery and then assesses the answers. If there is a high likelihood that modern slavery or exploitation is occurring at the hand car wash, users can send a report to the Modern Slavery Helpline at the touch of a button.
All the information gathered is made available to statutory organisations and law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and regional police forces to help them identify and take action against hand car washes which are not treating their staff fairly.
File a report
It is crucial that Londoners don’t just download the app – we need to use it whenever we visit a hand car wash. Even if we don’t see any particularly worrying signs, it is helpful to systematically work through the app’s questions as sometimes exploitation can be hidden in plain sight. The information submitted also helps statutory organisations build a clearer picture of the sector - how many hand car wash businesses there are, where they are and when new ones pop up.
We recently analysed the data gathered by the App and found that in a third of cases, there were signs of exploitation. This is deeply troubling and further proof of why we all need to be alert.
If you own a car, why not download the Safe Car Wash App today from Apple or Google play stores and use it when you visit a hand car wash?
And even if you don’t drive or use hand car washes, help us tackle modern slavery and exploitation by telling your friends, colleagues and church community about this ground-breaking app!
To find out more, visit https://theclewerinitiative.org/campaigns/safe-car-wash