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British Parliament takes on unregulated hand car wash industry

Britain’s Members of Parliament have announced an inquiry into the hand car wash sector due to ‘modern slavery’ concerns.

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Modern slavery in the UK’s hand car washes will be investigated by parliament with concerns over the abuse of unregulated workers in the sector. In addition, the Environment Audit Committee will examine the impact of cleaning agents and misuse of water has on the environment.

The probe into the hand car wash sector, which has grown massively over the last couple of years, will examine how many of the up to 20,000 sites have exploited or trafficked workers. Thousands of men, mainly from Eastern Europe, are believed to be trapped in debt bondage, forced to work in unsafe conditions and subjected to threats and abuse from their employers, according to Reuters.

The professional car wash industry has been denouncing for years the detrimental effect of these unregulated services on their businesses.

Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, spoke of the negative impacts these services have on the environment.

“Oil, dirt and cleaning products are often not disposed of correctly, which could be having a significant impact on local water sources and wildlife,” said Creagh. “Our inquiry will look at the environmental impact of hand car washes and ask how effective the regulations that govern them are. It will also ask the Government how it is meeting its commitments under the UN Sustainable Development Goals to reduce human exploitation.”

An investigation by the Car Wash Advisory Service, in Nottingham in 2014, found most operators did not have planning permission, did not pay business rates and did not have permission to dispose of effluents through the sewers, reports the BBC.

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