This isn’t modern slavery

Traditional Turkish barber shops are using slave labour, the police officer behind the UK’s first child modern slavery prosecution has warned.

Detective inspector Charlotte Tucker said, “There are barber shops setting up now where people live above the shop and customers pay in cash. Owners are looking to exploit workers and make money.”

Capitalists profiting from the surplus value of labour just isn’t modern slavery.

47 comments on “This isn’t modern slavery

  1. “One indication of malpractice, she said, is “If you’re in a barbers and, when another customer arrives, a tired or disheveled barber comes downstairs to start working on them.””

    Or he could just be tired?

  2. “DI Tucker said nail bar customers need to adopt a Think 25-style policy when making sure their manicure is ethical. If a nail bar worker looks like they are under-18, exploitation could be occurring.

    “Children should be in school until they are 16 and then there will be a period of training at college,” she said. “Certainly, they shouldn’t be working at a nail bar.””

    Maybe they don’t want to go to college? Does everyone now have to, or be regarded by authority as ‘suspect’?

    “She said customers should ask the technician their age if they suspect them to be under-18. If they can’t speak any English that could be another sign of exploitation.”

    Christ, this daft bint is desperate to make a name for herself, isn’t she? Does she think this is a fast-track to be the next useless identity politics hire like Cressida?

  3. Another example of the Police doing the job they want to do, rather than the job that the public wants them to do – ie patrolling the streets, cracking down on anti-social behaviour, catching burglars and thieves, etc.

  4. Why are women exploiting other women? Is this a subject the BBC and the Guardian might find interesting?

  5. There are barber shops setting up now where people live above the shop and customers pay in cash.

    Not…cash!! CASH!! In this day and age!

    In fact, every barber I have ever been to I have paid in cash. Does this make me an evil man? Complicit in a conspiracy to defraud HMRC and exploit unknown Turkish slaves?

  6. Of course, barbering is not the primary function of Turkish barber shops, just as nailing isn’t the primary function of Vietnamese nail bars.

    Rather, they are a conduit. And the people who work in them are not being exploited, they are doing the exploiting, assisted as they are in complying with Immigration laws.

  7. The small Chiltern market town where I do my shopping, now has two Turkish barbers (to add to five standard ones, all on a quarter-mile High Street, interspersed among charity shops). As the barber in my village was on holiday, I decided to give one a try and was very pleasantly surprised – all the young lads who worked there were happy and smiling and (I’m pretty sure) from one extended family.

    But when I asked them, in chatting, where they were from, they said Green Lanes (N London) – I assume they all drive up every day in a minibus. I’m amazed they can make this work economically based on a 50-mile commute.

  8. Oh, and nobody lives above the new Turkish barber’s in our village. Because the library is above it.

    Not that I’ve used it yet – still using the barber’s shop I’ve used since we moved in.

  9. “One indication of malpractice, she said, is “If you’re in a barbers and, when another customer arrives, a tired or disheveled barber comes downstairs to start working on them.””

    Family running the business who live above the shop only come down when needed? Why is this in any way surprising?

    And for the obscure lyrics fans amongst you….

    He runs a little shop with a room at the top
    And a mortgage all around it
    His little lady will be fifty-three on Monday
    And his only son’s in the Navy

    But he doesn’t shout about it
    No, he doesn’t shout about it
    He’s a one in a million
    He’s a one in a million

  10. Of course, barbering is not the primary function of Turkish barber shops, just as nailing isn’t the primary function of Vietnamese nail bars.

    This. I assume it’s a scam, like the Eastern European gypsy “Beeg Eessue” vendors.

    You can tell it’s dodgy because the Seljuks are involved.

  11. The best place for Turkish barber’s is Turkey.

    That said however the scummy state and their stooges seems to have a real down on nail bars/barbers,

    Is it some subculture thing? Some brand of Home Office pervert has it in for personal grooming services? To such a degree it transcends their usual kiss-a-migrants-arse routine?

    Very odd.

  12. Pretty sure I’ve seen references to Turkish barbers’ shops in England in 19th century and/or 1920s books. Not a new thing.

  13. Richard – seeing them pop up in every dismal post-industrial town and hamlet in Britain is a new thing.

  14. It’s not a very common phrase in British English according to the Google corpus and the few quotes I actually looked at were about Turkish barbers in Turkey rather than the traditional British institution of the Turkish barber

    https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Turkish+barber+&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=18&smoothing=1&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CTurkish%20barber%3B%2Cc0

    In my town there are about 6 Turkish barber shops plus 1 British. I don’t think the Turks were there until about 10 years ago. Actually I have no way of knowing they are Turkish beyond the signs on the windows. It could be like Indian restaurants (quite often Bangladeshi) or Italian restaurants staffed by Turks, Albanians and just about anyone other than Italians.

    On reflection, the only time I visited a “Turkish” barber, I suspect that he was actually Romanian. The haircut left a lot to be desired but I think I gained status by letting people know that this is how people like their hair in Romania

  15. To judge by footfall, I suspect that a Turkish barber shop is not the route to wealth, or even useful for money laundering. The idea that slavery might be involved is eye opening, even mind expanding: why would anyone bother?

  16. @ Diogenes
    A somewhat long-wided answer
    People are fleeing Turkey in large numbers to the extent that the people traffickers don’t have enough seaworthy boats (most of those who drowned are Syrians because they are the most desperate, the Turks can afford to be more choosy). Some are just economic migrants, some are politically persecuted – any non-communist Kurd living in Turkey is attacked by both sides, people who are not fans of Erdogan get picked on, anyone who cheered Germany in the World Cup because it was part-Turkish etc – and lots of them want to come to England because it has less xenophobia than almost any other country in Europe, which is more important to them than the level of the Welfare State safety net because the latter only impinges on one’s subconscience if one grows up in a Welfare State.
    When they get here, what can they do? There are already more kebab shops than we need. Someone suggests a barber shop which has low demand for capital and high demand for labour, a couple become trendy and are visible successes, so lots of them have a go.
    So we now have lots and lots of Turkish barber shops, more than is economically, let alone culturally, justified. My Italian barber, who was born in England and gives me an English haircut, is fully occupied on Saturday but spends part of most days waiting for customers.
    My suggestion is that D I Charlotte accuses them of slavery because the youngsters are not being paid the “Living Wage” because receipts are not high enough for Uncle Ismail to pay them that after paying rent and other overheads, but they are still better off than staying in Turkey.
    NB I changed “UK” to England because Scotland, Ireland and Wales are/have been ruled by xenophobes

  17. “DI Tucker said nail bar customers need to adopt a Think 25-style policy when making sure their manicure is ethical.”

    That is said seriously as if “making sure their manicure is ethical” is something someone might actually do; might even be expected by some others to do. Should customers audit the books; check the material supply chain; inspect passports?

    In the UK, all the people engaged in “modern slavery” are non-western foreigners doing things the non-western foreigner way. There’s a very easy solution to the problem of “modern slavery” in the UK. It’s probably a crime to suggest it, and a useless waste of space like DI Tucker will be watching.

  18. Other warning signs include, the business only takes cash payments

    This could also be a sign that their margins are so razor thin that the cost of processing electronic payments makes offering card payment for a £8 haircut uneconomic.

    But hey, they are probably slavers! If only Mrs Plod and her colleagues took that old-fashioned suspicious attitude to other members of our community!

  19. I don’t remember all this fuss 30 years ago when corner shops came to be staffed by members of the owner’s family, including some who were so young they had to stand on a box to reach the till.

  20. john 77 said:
    “My suggestion is that D I Charlotte accuses them of slavery because the youngsters are not being paid the “Living Wage” … but they are still better off than staying in Turkey.”

    That sounds about right. They’re happy with it because their better off than what they had before, but various British prodnoses think they shouldn’t be happy and so must be being oppressed (even if “saving” them makes them worse off).

    “Modern” as a modifier seems to mean “not actually, but we want a rhetorical phrase”.

  21. (oh dear; should be “they’re” not “their”; could I get a job sub-editing on the Telegraph?)

  22. John 77–All very sad but not our problem. That their country has become a shithole–if it ever was anything else–is too bad. My concern is to see they and all the other UN of trouble don’t turn my country into a shithole as well.

    As to what they can do when they get here–get the next flight back to Turkey is my suggestion.

  23. As mentioned above, it seems the distinguishing feature of all these “modern-slavery ” stories is that both the putative slavers & their supposed slaves are not ethnically indigenous to the UK. So the solution to the problem would appear to be obvious.

  24. “I suspect that a Turkish barber shop is not the route to wealth, or even useful for money laundering.”

    Any cash-heavy business is ideal for money-laundering. Yiou might be surprised how many customers they have according to their accounts.

    London’s Turks (esp those around Green Lane) are heavily involved in crime, esp smack.

  25. MC, based on the number of people I have seen in my local barber shops, cash-heavy are not the first words that spring to mind. Things might be different in Green Lane.

  26. john77

    Sorry, a lot of this is way off: “People are fleeing Turkey in large numbers to the extent that the people traffickers don’t have enough seaworthy boats (most of those who drowned are Syrians because they are the most desperate, the Turks can afford to be more choosy).”

    Numbers of migrants taking the sea crossing from Turkey are indeed high, but they are well down on a couple of years ago – traffickers are far less busy. And it’s Syrians, Afghans, Pakistanis etc who are taking that route. Why would someone with a Turkish passport? They can just fly here and overstay their visa if they can’t find a legal route, through family reunion or study visa or work permit or (in some cases) EU citizenship or whatever.

    As I understand it a lot of the Turkish community in the UK are actually Turkish Cypriots. My town has now got about six Turkish barbers and four Turkish restaurants, up from zero just a few years ago. Suspect the rent on the floorspace is cheap as the high street was dying a death back then. But the workers do seem to have London accents. There’s a big Turkish community in Hackney (very visible round e.g. Stoke Newington) and I suspect a lot are moving out as Hackney changes. Gentrification can strike everywhere!

    What struck me as surprising was that none of these new stores I’ve seen has been a traditional greengrocer or general store, which has been one of the little enterprises that Turks/Turkish Cypriots set up a lot throughout London.

  27. When I was on holiday in Turkey a couple of years ago the barbers (and taxi drivers) all looked tired and dishevelled. Maybe its a cultural thing?

    Richard T, there’s been one in Weymouth for about 2 years.

  28. @ MBE
    OK, when I said “are” I should have said “have recently been” – I expected my readers to realise that the stock of Turks in England related to the numbers who had come over, not the ones currently passing through Greece but as a notorious pedant I have no excuse.

  29. @djc – i’ve been out of That London for a while now, forget things.

    @Diogenes – that’s the great thing with using cash businesses for money laundering, you don’t need any customers at all. When did you last get a receipt from the barber?

  30. As Brick Lane is to curry houses, Green Lanes is to Turkish restaurants. The good ones are very good.

  31. Have we not forgotten the (English) woman who ran a nail bar from her front room that didn’t make any profit – so no tax – but nevertheless became entitled to lots of lovely ‘working tax credits’? It was one of those ‘aren’t the poor so desperately downtrodden by the evil Tories ?’ type programmes, undoubtedly on the BBC or Sky where most of us thought, “err no”. It also revealed the (unintended?) consequences of Gordon Brown’s economic illiteracy and the truth behind the UK’s record low employment. Lots of low skill low wage jobs that then entitle you and your large extended family to the full 25k+ of benefits. So Euro 500 a month average earnings in Croatia or Eur3000 on benefits in the UK? Tough call as the health and education comes in free. All you need is a ‘job’ selling big issue or cutting hair.

  32. Re taking a holiday in Cornwall, the last time I drove down took about the same time as flying to Italy. Perhaps that’s why I have never returned

  33. That is entirely my point, J77. 2 hours at the airport, 2 hours in the hour and an hour to get out of the airport at the other end = 5 hours.

    Driving to Cornwall is easily a 5 hour trip.

  34. @ Diogenes
    How about travelling to/from the airport?
    Next time I use Stanstead I’ll take a taxi home: my wife nearly went spare trying to pick me up because they had changed the rules and not told us. The mobile reception cutting out umpteen times didn’t help either.

  35. Every town I have visited recently has had newish Turkish or Kurdish barbers opening. This includes my town which now has two . There are six established barber salons already including my own. Yes this is having an effect on trade, basically as the Turks open seven days a week, bank holidays and operate long trading hours. I can’t possibly get my staff to work such hours and if they would I could not afford to pay them as I pay at least minimum wage. As far as I know these newcomers have no relevant qualifications, our staff are all NVQ2 and above trained. The Turks do wet shaves without wearing gloves, which is illegal, their staff seems to constantly change. Who knows what hours each person works and if they are paid minimum wage or if anyone is paying tax. I understand in Turkey ‘ foreigners ‘ are not allowed to set up a barber shop, which is a bit ironic. There should be some legislation For opening a barber salon. Also I may add I have staff from Germany and Lithuania as well as British .
    We are doing our best to compete, but these Turkish barbers are not playing by UK rules.

  36. Isn;t the answer “not letting excess people in” rather than yet more regulation. A worlld where every activity is licensed simply makes us all slaves of those who issue the licences. We’re too far down that rabbit hole already.

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