Labour\’s just made recycling illegal

Or rather, Labour\’s just made forcing people to recycle illegal. Via The Devil we get to the new act:

71Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour

(1)A person (D) commits an offence if—

(a)D holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that D knows or ought to know that the person is so held, or

(b)D requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that D knows or ought to know that the person is being required to perform such labour.

(2)In subsection (1) the references to holding a person in slavery or servitude or requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour are to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention (which prohibits a person from being held in slavery or servitude or being required to perform forced or compulsory labour).

(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding the relevant period or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both;

(b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years or a fine, or both.

(4)In this section—


“Human Rights Convention” means the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms agreed by the Council of Europe at Rome on 4 November 1950;

“the relevant period” means—

in relation to England and Wales, 12 months;

in relation to Northern Ireland, 6 months.

Now there is a get out here. The imposition of involuntary, forced or coerced labour is allowed if it still conforms to Section 4 of the Human Rights Act which reads:

Article 4 Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

1 No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

2 No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

3 For the purpose of this Article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:

(a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;

(b) any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;

(c) any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;

(d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

These people aren\’t entirely stupid of course. Normal civic obligations includes the unpaid time we must use to fill in tax forms, the unpaid time we must use to fill in the Census, the unpaid time ….well, you get the picture.

However, the requirement to sort your rubbish is not a normal civic obligation. It\’s an attempt to create a new civic obligation. It\’s also labour and it\’s also performed under duress….don\’t do it and they\’ll arrest you, resist arrest and they\’ll use violence.

And this would hold true for any new service which the government would force us to provide unpaid and with the threat of punishment if we don\’t.

Isn\’t that fascinating?

9 thoughts on “Labour\’s just made recycling illegal”

  1. Nah. It was the National Minimum Wage that made recycling illegal.

    Back in the day, old tramps round my way used to go through dustbins, fish out the aluminiums can and then take a bin liner full to the recycling centre, for which they got £1 or £2. As it took them a couple of hours to get a bin liner full, this clearly fell foul of NMW legislation so they stopped exploiting themselves and stopped doing it.

  2. It’s not forced labour though is it? The requirement is that your rubbish is sorted before it will be taken away. You might as well make the point that they won’t take it away if it’s scattered around your house, rather than in bin bags.

  3. Matthew
    The benefit of putting waste into a bin is to the householder as well, not just the council. It keeps our property clean and is more hygenic.

    Segregating it into the rainbow of wheely bins is purely for the benefit of the council. They could pay somebody to do it, but they don’t. They are forcing us to do it

  4. Would that apply to forcing landlords to do the additional work of stopping there customers smoking?

  5. Rosscoe, as people have argued on other blogs yesterday about this law (not sure why it’s suddenly been brought to attention now – I was looking at whether it could be used to deny tax way back in december), acting as a policeman in the situations you describe, such as policing their godforsaken smoking ban, can place you in danger.

    In fact it was mentioned that now that Nick Hogan has been released and gone back to work, he did tell someone to put out a cigarette abd the guy came back later brandishing a kitchen knoife for his troubles. And that in New York, for example, there have been several deaths from situations where someone told not to smoke has become violent.

    So I would argue there that another part of the European Convention on Human Rights perhaps, but certainly common sense, says that you cannot call it a “civic obligation” to assist if it could put you at significant extra danger (it deals with compulsory military service if they brought in conscription and the parallel public works a conscientous objector would be asked to do instead of going to war separately).

    And, given that the law is tempered by the ECHR one could see many interesting fights going to the European Court or our Supreme court in their stead, to determine an aspect of the convention.

  6. Yes but Mr Choos, if I don’t want to put my rubbish into bin bags and would prefer the council to come into my house and clear it up for me, then that they won’t do so and make me do it is forced labour, isn’t it?

  7. yeah, Matthew – you can choose to live in filth. That’s up to you.

    But the council will insist that you do unpaid work for them by sorting said filth into categories it finds pleasing.

    I take bottles to the bottle bank because a) it’s within five minutes walking distance and b) I love the sound of breaking glass. But were the bottle banks moved farther away, I should be less happy – and less likely to recycle them.

  8. We haven’t had slavery in this fair land for god knows how long. Yet Labour feels it necessary to ban it again?????


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