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Case study

How Multiplex identified risks of labour exploitation and discovered practical measures to address them.

800

staff in the UK

3

major projects reviewed

1000

workers per project

Multiplex is an international construction contractor operating in Australia, the UK, Canada and the Middle East. Founded in 1962, Multiplex delivers some of the most iconic, complex structures in the world across diverse sectors including residential, commercial, engineering and infrastructure. The organisation has over 800 employees working out of the UK, and many hundreds more contingent workers employed through their supply chain partners.

 

Multiplex has been championing ethical labour practices throughout its operations in the UK, Canada and the Middle East for five years. A year ago, Multiplex’s Social Value Team led on the development of Multiplex’s 10-year Social Equity Strategy in Europe, which put human rights and ethical labour at the centre of their transition to net zero.

It is Multiplex’s mission to make all workers on their projects feel valued by ensuring its site culture and practices align with the company’s ambitions.

Challenge: Identifying risks of labour exploitation within high risk, hard-to-reach trades

“Dry liners are a trade group where we have identified higher risks of labour exploitation and indicators of modern slavery in the past. We were looking for a way to unpack common trends and tighten up on controls internally, to reduce the risks,” Multiplex says.

Multiplex had previously conducted worker interviews as part of their Ethical Labour Management System. The focus was now to build on this and overcome some specific challenges to collecting more detailed worker sentiment data.

 

Firstly, if modern slavery or ethical labour violations were occurring, it was important to ensure Multiplex and their supply chain partners would be equipped with the data and therefore be able to work collaboratively to address any issues that were identified.

 

Secondly, since many workers fear the reprisals of speaking out (e.g., becoming unpopular with their managers/supervisors or losing their jobs), any worker consultation activities delivered by Multiplex or their supply chain partners were unlikely to get responses from those who were most at risk.

 

Thirdly, over 75% of the dry liners did not speak English as a first language, presenting further challenges to an effective worker consultation effort on-site.

Solution: Listening to workers directly, confidentially and inclusively

Having seen Worker Feedback Club presented at a Stronger Together anti-modern slavery event, Multiplex decided to explore utilising Worker Feedback Club’s worker sentiment data collection solution and data analysis service when thinking about how their worker consultation process could be improved.

“It is essential for us to check-in and ensure that our sites are operating to the best of their potential and Worker Feedback Club provides this feedback loop that previously was lacking,” Multiplex says.

The Social Value team deployed Worker Feedback Club on three major projects to gather both qualitative and quantitative sentiment data directly from workers. Sentiment data was gathered confidentially from 59 dry liners – from apprentices to supervisors – drawn from three supply chain partners, and participants were selected at random to ensure the sample was representative. Data collection questions were translated into workers’ native language to improve accessibility and ensure the quality and integrity of the sentiment data.

Quantitative data was collated into a data dashboard to visualise the differences between sites and see the range of responses. The qualitative data was analysed to generate key insights and develop a picture of the labour practices and worker challenges on each site. The outputs were then reviewed across all three sites to see both the site-specific differences and also the overarching themes that emerged from all workers and all sites.

Result: Mitigating the risk of exploitative labour practices and delivering successful projects

Using Worker Feedback Club’s data collection and analysis services, Multiplex was able to understand the experiences of high risk, hard-to-reach workers on three major projects in just three weeks. The results were shared with senior management at Multiplex and their supply chain partners – and together they used the results to inform their Ethical Labour and Modern Slavery strategies, which they will implement throughout the next ten years.

“We have taken away five action areas for us to work on to address the findings, to improve overall site welfare amenities, mental health, wellbeing and training for workers on our sites. Worker Feedback Club’s input to determining some ‘quick win’ solutions has been invaluable in helping us to influence our site teams and supply chain partners,” Multiplex says.

The findings assisted Multiplex in providing additional support, training and auditing for all of their dry lining supply chain partners and in developing an approach to working together to practically resolve any issues.

Looking forward

The tools and support from Worker Feedback Club continue to play an important role in helping Multiplex design and evolve their approach to worker engagement.

“Worker Feedback Club has done great work for us to help identify risks of labour exploitation on our construction sites and identify quick wins to practically work on. They have been professional, and are always keen to improve and work with us to provide a seamless and optimal service,” Multiplex says.

Want to learn more about how Worker Feedback Club’s data collection and analysis services can support worker engagement throughout your organisation? Book a call to start the conversation today.