• Mike Hand

'Slave' living in Gloucester reveals horrifying ordeal as numbers show modern slavery is on the rise

BySamuel PortDigital Journalist Michael Goodier

A former 'slave' living in Gloucester has described how he had acid thrown over him while working for a car wash in the city.

The Eastern European man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came to the city in 2009 to 'make a better life' for himself and support his family.

He had no idea his employers at a car wash in Gloucester would make him work rigorously for 11 hour shifts with no lunch break, force him to share a single room with four other people and that he would become the victim of an acid attack.

He said the Albanian bosses who employed him seemed nice at first but as time progressed he realised they were in fact 'nasty'.

'He had a bucket of acid'

He said: "Once I remember at 7pm we were closed and one of the bosses said we need to wash the car wash.

"I said no because we have been here for 11 hours, we want to go home. He had a bucket of acid and started throwing it all over us. Acid you use to clean the wheels. It burned. It went on the face and on my back and hands, because we were wearing t-shirts, it was summer.

"He was in a temper, just throwing the acid and shouting in his language [Albanian] and you know, it’s not nice. You can’t just be mad at someone after they finish 11 hours working a very busy day and at the same time being left to not eat."

He added that in the winter, conditions were much worse as the water from the car wash would make him cold.

He was quick to add that the car wash he refers to has been under new management for a long time.

Levels of modern day slavery are on the rise, more than 20 potential victims of modern slavery were uncovered across Gloucestershire in the first nine months of 2019 - and more than half of these were children.

In the whole of 2018 there were more than 50 suspected victims of modern slavery in Gloucestershire - and nearly 80 per cent were children.

'They looked at us like we were nobody, like you look at a dog'

He worked for the car wash for a year and a half. He was paid £30 a day for his labour and would have to pay £40 a week to rent the shared room, which he said "would get busier on the weekends".

The bosses would live in the house as well, however they would have their own private room.

He added: "I was feeling upset, sometimes I would feel like I wanted to cry, and I want to leave – but on the other hand, I was thinking ‘Come on, you can do it because you have got family back home to support.’

"The bosses looked at us like we were nobody, like you look at a dog."

A year in to his employment, the bosses moved them to a new location in Wales.

"They basically just left us there with some other guy," he said.

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