Penny Pinching gangmaster caught in web of deceit
17th March 2009
A West Midlands gangmaster was caught out after a GLA inspection revealed he had been deceiving the GLA and exploiting workers. Mr Kashmir Singh the Director of New Horizons Personnel Limited, has now had two licences revoked and one licence application refused.
In the judgement dismissing the appeal against the latest revocation decision, Mr Singh was declared “not a fit and proper person” to act as a gangmaster after repeated exploitation of vulnerable workers and repeatedly attempting to mislead the GLA.
Mr John Sherratt the appointed person who heard the appeal said:
“Mr Singh as the principal authority, has exploited workers by depriving them of the pennies in their wages and that he has caused the company to fail to comply with obligations to VOSA. ....... The Wages issue was in my judgement a persistent and systematic exploitation of the workers.”
“To allow the appellant company time to take steps to wind down its business and to terminate the employment of the workers in an orderly fashion and in compliance with the Employment Rights Act 1996 this decision will take effect at 17:00 on Tuesday 31 March 2009 after which time the appellant company must cease trading within the sectors regulated by the GLA”.
The GLA estimate that he would have made £3,900 a year from rounding down workers pay although the workers would have been paying National Insurance Contributions and Tax on the full amount. Three vehicles used by Mr Singh had not been tested to ensure they met mandatory safety standards.
Mr Singh did all he could to conceal this from GLA inspectors. However, with support from the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) the GLA ensured his attempts to deceive were unsuccessful. GLA investigations also found that signed statements and answers given when interviewed were false where Mr Singh denied providing accommodation to workers, and also falsely declared his place of birth.
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA said:
“We have come across Mr Singh before .His actions have harmed the workers, given him an unfair competitive advantage over hard working, legitimate gangmasters and defrauded the public of tax revenue. We will continue to protect workers, legitimate businesses and identify non-payment of tax whilst dealing with the unscrupulous gangmasters.”
Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden said
“We are determined to ensure the recession is not used as an excuse to deny people their employment rights. I am pleased to see that the GLA has acted to protect vulnerable workers in the West Midlands. Most employers treat their workers fairly, but where that is not the case, it is important to come down hard on those who try to exploit workers and flout the law. Not paying workers the minimum wage, failing to pay taxes and employing people with false papers is despicable and unacceptable behaviour."
"The Government will shortly introduce new measures to strengthen protection for vulnerable workers with automatic penalties to catch out rogue operators who fail to pay the minimum wage."
Mr Kashmir Singh, the Director of New Horizon Personnel Ltd, was previously the Director of Newtex Ltd, another gangmaster business that lost its licence in 2008. Newtex Ltd had its licence revoked on 23 July 2008.
The GLA found that Mr Singh:
had not paid the workers tax deductions to HMRC
workers did not receive the agricultural minimum wage
workers were supplied who did not have the right to work in the UK
national insurance cards were found to be false
and passports of workers had been manipulated including the same signature on four passports.
The GLA has declared Mr Singh a not fit or proper person to hold a licence. As a result, Mr Singh and any businesses with which he is involved must stop supplying workers to GLA regulated sectors or face prosecution.
Notes to editors
1. A five day oral appeal hearing led to the appeal of New Horizons Personnel Limited against the GLA decision being dismissed.
2. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) was set up to curb the exploitation of workers in the agricultural, horticultural, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packing industries.
3. The majority of workers involved in these industries come from countries such as: Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Pakistan and Portugal.
4. So far, 1,226 labour providers hold a GLA licence. Eighty eight licenses have been revoked (8 with immediate effect). One person has been prosecuted for operating without a licence, with more prosecutions forthcoming.
5. The GLA stepped up its fight against those who abuse workers with the launch of Operation Ajax in June. The operation was set up to increase the GLA’s activities with an 18 month programme of unannounced raids.
6. Paul Whitehouse, GLA Chairman, is available for interview by contacting 0115 900 8962
7. Anybody who is aware of exploitation should contact the GLA on 0845 602 5020 or report anonymously at www.gla.gov.uk/report
Public enquiries: 0845 602 5020
Media enquiries: 0115 900 8962