Low cost nail bars could be a front for human trafficking

As many as 71,000 Vietnamese manicurists could be working in Britain illegally, with many having been trafficked into Britain and forced to work for scant wages.

New research by The Sunday Times, published yesterday as part of a new campaign investigating modern day slavery in Britain, suggests that many of Britain’s low cost nail bars could be staffed by Vietnamese men and women smuggled into the country illegally, incurring massive debts from their traffickers which they are unable to pay back.

The article published in the paper’s magazine supplement reported that an estimated 100,000 Vietnamese nail technicians are working in Britain, however census data indicates only 29,000 Vietnamese-born migrants officially live in the UK.

The article also reported that some 90 nail bars in England and Wales have been fined for employing illegal immigrants over the last five years.

Habia chairman Suki Kalirai said he was appalled by the practice.

"This news shows that changes must take place in the beauty industry, which is thankfully taking strides to become a more professional sector," he said. "It is a task that won't be accomplished overnight but what is already beginning to happen is that the industry itself is calling for further measures to recognise the skills and qualifications of professional nail technicians."

Kalirai added that Habia's Professional Register of Nail Technicians, which is currently under development and due to launch in October, will go some way to tackling this issue as it will allow clients to make informed choices about the nail technicians they use.