Battle to right the ship in hand car wash industry


It is not at all uncommon for people to take on labouring jobs, especially when they are their first job experience (this is true regardless of if that is job experience in the country, or job experience as a whole). What we do not hear as much about anymore is labouring jobs in relation to present-day slavery in the western world. Unfortunately, there has been an issue that has continuously been gaining traction over the last year, reaching boiling point recently. In the United Kingdom, hand car washes with illegal business models have become more popular than ever, leading to imploding criticisms and calls for action. It sounds like something out of a big picture movie based on events in eras long since passed. And yet, it is a devastating truth that is taking place all over the UK today, right at this very second. This rising issue comes on the back of economic restructuring in the country. But just how bad is it? How deep does the epidemic run?

We all know that washing and/or detailing a car is hard work. It can quite literally take hours to wash just a single car. That is why so many people pay other individuals to wash their vehicles for them, some for as little as £5 (yes, really). So, this begs the question: when we know how much effort is involved in washing and/or detailing a single car, why would we believe that £5 is simply a “good deal”. This is especially important a point to make when one considers that at least two people, if not more, wash the same car at the same time to speed up the process. This is an issue that is alarming to say the least, and inhumane and abdominal at its worst. The true current scale of the problem remains largely unknown, with even the workers at these hand car washes themselves reluctant to speak out against the injustices against them, but the problem exists. We must encourage people to speak out, or be at peace with this inhumane treatment. Much of the money from the cars’ owners is never seen by these unfortunate hard workers.

There are of course so many legitimate car wash companies that offer their services throughout the UK, many of them with competitive pricing. What it comes down to is doing the research to be able to find a car wash nearby with car detailing that is legitimate and well-priced. This can take some time. And yes, the prices may rise for the task in the process, but you would be hard-pressed to find any one person who honestly and truly believes that £5 split between multiple individuals – if they even see the money at all, of course – is fair. Hand car washes are not a new concept, and many companies do them exceptionally well and legally, so it is important not to disregard all hand car washing companies for the actions and irresponsible moralities of some. What it really comes down to is staying aware and reporting establishments that seem illegitimate in some way, and making the extra effort to either wash our cars ourselves, or do the research to support a legitimate, legally and morally sustainable hand carwash company – even if it costs a few dollars more to do so.

The exploitation of some hand car wash workers throughout the UK is something that continues to shock the western world. Modern issues of slavery in the western world are definitively rare, and so it comes as a genuine shock to many of us when issues like this come to light, and to public attention. We often drop off our cars, pay, and leave to do groceries or wander around until it is time to pick the vehicle up post-clean. We do not think enough about what goes on in the places that wash our cars. Without action, there can be no change. And this must change. Nobody, no matter where they are in the world, should have to work in such heinous conditions. The legalities of businesses like hand car washing are not difficult to follow, and making the changes is not particularly challenging. In the end, what it comes down to clients (the drivers) making conscious and consistent decisions to do business only with legitimate, legal, and morally sustainable hand car wash companies. When demand remains but the client flow ceases, the message begins to be sent. It is not everything, but it is a start.

When it comes to issues of slavery, much of the modern western world has put this ghastly activity well behind them. However, there is an issue that is gaining traction in the United Kingdom that many are (rightfully) calling modern slavery in broad daylight. There is a rising number of hand car washes that use illegal business models and means to hire, and keep on, their staff. These employees are grossly underpaid, forced to live in disgusting conditions, and have little to no out of the harrowing position they are in. Citizens that take their cars to get washed at these carwashes are implored by authorities and activists alike to report any conditions that seem wrong, and any employees they feel may be in danger. Of course, there are many legitimate hand car washes that run with competitive pricing throughout the nation, but it is the job of citizens wanting their cars washed to do their research and ensure they are supporting legitimate, morally sustainable car wash companies. This battle is ongoing.

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