Unsafe Housing and injuries lead to licence revocation with immediate effect
21st November 2008
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority have revoked the licence of a Northamptonshire gangmaster with immediate effect. The action was taken as a result of serious concerns over the safety of workers following allegations of unsafe accommodation and an injury to a worker.
A14 Vehicle Hire based in Kettering must stop supplying workers to GLA regulated industries or face prosecution under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004.
• Workers have been housed in overcrowded and unsafe accommodation and a number of houses were immediately closed by the local Authorities for breaches of gas and electrical safety regulations.
• 15 workers and 3 children were found in a 4 bedroom house
• The owner of the business attempted to mislead GLA officers A14 Vehicle Hire have the right to appeal against the GLA decision.
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA said:
“This was a scandalous set up with no regard for the individuals who suffered. Whilst we are satisfied that the evidence gathered to date justifies the immediate revocation of the licence, we are still assessing exactly what happened and gathering further evidence. There is a possibility that we could still uncover further abuses.”
“It only takes one brave worker to contact us, we can do the rest. Phone us on 0845 602 5020 or contact us anonymously at www.gla.gov.uk/report.”
Phil Hope, Minister for the East Midlands said:
“No individual should have to suffer these conditions. I applaud the GLA for dealing with the gangmaster and making sure the workers get the legal protections they deserve.”
More than 1,200 gangmasters are now licensed to operate legally in the UK and the GLA has uncovered worker exploitation and illegal and/or unlawful activity that led to the revocation of 77 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. 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.
5. Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA is available for interview.
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