Revoked Black Country gangmaster’s ‘serious dereliction of duty’
4th February 2015
A Dudley gangmaster who appeared to be paying agricultural field workers below the National Minimum Wage has been stripped of her licence by the GLA. Managing director Mrs Sahra Rizwan appealed against the authority’s decision to revoke the licence of her company A N Recruitment Ltd in May last year. But all of the GLA’s findings were upheld by an appointed judge at the Birmingham court and now the revocation has been triggered.
As well as finding evidence that showed the pea and sprout pickers she employed were not having their ‘piece-rate’ pay made up to NMW levels if they failed to reach it, the business failed a number of other GLA standards.
The authority determined that managing director Mrs Rizwan – the Principal Authority named on the licence - lacked the competencies required to run the business compliantly. It was also discovered she was working for a firm of accountants three days a week, while one of her supervisors and the farmer she supplied her workers to dictate how much they would be paid.
GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent said:
“Our findings suggested we had uncovered a case of someone being put up merely to act as ‘a front’ for a business - and the appeal judge fully backed our assessment.
“Though run and licensed in Mrs Rizwan’s name, it soon became apparent she had very little control over the day-to-day running of this company – primarily because she was working elsewhere for the majority of each week.
“She lacked much of the basic knowledge we would expect a managing director to know about her company’s operations – like the hourly rates her business charged to provide field workers to a farm. “But the most important thing is that we’ve removed another non-compliant operator from our sector and prevented these field workers from being exploited by receiving pay rates below the legal minimum.”
As well as failing the competency test and underpaying employees – both of which are critical requirements for holding a GLA licence – A N Recruitment Ltd also failed a third critical standard by failing to provide holiday pay. Insufficient risk assessments were carried out, necessary protective equipment was not provided and training documents were only made available in English – though most of the workers could not read them. Commenting on Mrs Rizwan’s running of A N Recruitment Ltd, Judge Victoria Dean said in her verdict:
“The Principal Authority must remain compliant with the Licensing Standards at all times and is required and should be prepared to face the consequences if she is not.
“The appellant’s failures, particularly in relation to the critical standards, are a serious dereliction of duty and to allow her simply to rectify those matters would undermine entirely the ethos of the legislation. The decision of the GLA shall stand.”
The GLA has won 94% of appeals against its decisions and has not lost a case since October 2010.
Press release issued by GLA Communications and Information Officer Paul Fearn. For more information from the GLA contact 0115 959 7069 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
1. The GLA operates throughout the UK and is a Non-Departmental Public Body.
2. The authority was formed in 2005 in the wake of the Morecambe Bay cockle picking disaster when 23 Chinese workers drowned on the sands.
3. The GLA licences companies that supply labour (gangmasters) for agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering as well as all associated processing and packaging.
4. Its main strategic priorities are to prevent worker exploitation, protect vulnerable people and tackle unlicensed and criminal activity.
5. Under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act (2004), it is illegal both to operate as, or employ the services of, an unlicensed gangmaster.