Time up for Suffolk Gangmaster – GLA revokes licence
14th April 2008
Goose Recruit Ltd has had its licence taken away by the GLA. They must now stop trading in the GLA licensed sectors or face prosecution action. The company originally had their licence revoked (without immediate effect) in March 2008 and had 20 days to submit an appeal. As no appeal was made the licence has now been formally revoked. The business based in Leiston, Suffolk is the second to have their licence revoked in the town this year.
GLA officers found:
• accommodation charges that were unacceptably high. (Attempts to hide the charges by deducting part of the money directly from the workers own bank accounts after they had been paid, meant that these figures did not show up on wage slips.)
• No legal system was in place to provide holiday pay
• Workers had worked excessive hours and had not taken sufficient breaks in between shifts
• No records of timesheets were held by the company
• No arrangements were in place to identify responsibility for health and safety training
• No evidence of training being provided to workers
• Involvement of the Director of Vilnius Recruitment Ltd who had their licence revoked by the GLA in January.
Chairman of the GLA, Paul Whitehouse, said this week:
“There is no hiding place for rogue gangmasters. We will hunt them down.”
“The GLA is intent on cracking down on illegal work practices in every bid to protect workers from exploitation”.
More than 1,100 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 53 licences. Anybody who supplies workers to the agriculture, shellfish gathering and food and drink processing and packaging sectors in the UK needs to be licensed by the GLA, or they risk prosecution and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
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 1188 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. It has been an offence to supply labour to the GLA regulated sectors since 1 October 2006, with the maximum penalty being ten years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
5. All licences that are revoked have the right of appeal including licences revoked with immediate effect.
6. Copies of any appeal decisions can be obtained from the appeals secretariat Gangmasters Licensing Appeals, Defra, Electra Way, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 6GJ Telephone: 01270 754231, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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