British car wash owners handed slavery orders
Hand car washes and worker exploitation remain a toxic combination in parts of the United Kingdom. Last month, the owners of two Lincolnshire hand car washes have been handed Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STRO) by the authorities.
Many things were wrong with the Best Hand Car Wash on the A158 in Horncastle and the Spilsby Hand Car Wash on Ashby Road, Spilsby. The multi-agency investigation lasted for almost a year.
Investigators found illegal car wash workers who were being paid below the National Minimum Wage and not in possession of any written contracts.
The two young owners were recruiting anyone who didn’t have legal status to work in the UK, let alone a valid National Insurance number. They are now ordered to pay all car wash workers at least the National Minimum Wage and provide wage slips to them.
The pair must also allow entry during business hours to the three enforcement agencies so they can inspect conditions and speak with workers at the car washes.
“These were all vulnerable people”, said chief Inspector Rich Nethercott of Lincolnshire Police. “They have been working long hours for little or no wages and not able to provide convincing accounts as to how they have come to be at the car wash.”
Hand car washes are commonplace in streets and communities across the UK, with estimates ranging from 8,000 to 20,000 locations, with annual turnover estimated to be £1.8 billion. The HCW industry has been identified as a high-risk sector for labour abuse. The workforce can include illegal migrants who have been trafficked to the UK.
A hearing for full orders against both defendants will be held at a later date..