Illegal workers and unlicensed gangmasters
10th November 2008
A GLA investigation has uncovered illegal activity by a Preston gangmaster who supplied workers including a number of illegal workers to the pet food industry. The licence of Voluntary People Limited, the gangmaster business that supplied the workers, has been revoked. They must now stop supplying workers to the GLA regulated sector or face prosecution.
There was no appeal made against the GLA decision. Both men and women were working on the pet food production line and records kept by the gangmaster showed that no checks to confirm their right to work in the UK had been made. Records suggested the workers were from Brazil, Bulgaria, Portugal, Poland and the Czech Republic.
• Voluntary People Limited had subcontracted workers from an unlicensed gangmaster in Poland
• At least two workers supplied by Voluntary People were not legally entitled to work in the UK.
• Workers were charged for Personal Protective Equipment used to carry out their job
• There was no evidence that workers had agreed to deductions from their pay for Personal Protective Equipment and clock cards.
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA said:
“We are determined to catch the rogue gangmasters, this time it is not the food on your plate but the food in the bowl of your pet that has been processed by an exploited worker”
“We shall continue to protect the rights of workers and ensure that all gangmaster businesses meet basic legal requirements. You can not hide from us, you can not avoid us. We are determined to route out the rogues.”
More than 1,200 gangmasters are now licensed to operate legally in the UK and the GLA has uncovered worker exploitation and illegal activity that led to the revocation of 78 licences.
Notes to editors
1. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority was set up to curb the exploitation of workers in the agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packaging industries. It was set up following the death of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay in 2004. The majority of workers involved in these industries come from countries such as: Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, India Pakistan and Portugal.
2. There are currently 1201 gangmasters licensed by the GLA
3. A gangmaster is an individual or business who:
• supplies labour to agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging
• uses labour to provide a service in the regulated sector, eg harvesting or gathering agricultural produce
• uses labour to gather shellfish.
To be granted a GLA licence all businesses must meet the GLA licensing standards and the principle authority of the business must meet ‘Fit or Proper’ person criteria. Cross government checks are made on all licence applications.
4. Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA is available for interview.
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