Sandwell Gangmaster – 'Worst in UK'
5th November 2013
A West Midlands labour agency had its licence revoked at appeal after returning the worst inspection result ever recorded by the GLA.
The case prompted calls from the GLA to amend the appeals process so substantial legal costs can be recovered from those who „play the system‟ solely to secure additional profit.
An employment judge upheld the GLA decision to revoke the licence of Lloyds Management Ltd after describing director Prem Singh Johal as having „little grasp of what is required‟ to run his business.
The company, based in Popes Lane, Oldbury, supplied workers to pick spring onions on farms in Worcestershire and to harvest leeks in Lincolnshire.
Lloyds‟ gangmaster‟s licence was revoked in January but once an appeal was lodged, the business was legally permitted to continue operations until the case was heard at court.
Mr Johal was the named Principal Authority on the licence – the person responsible for the day-to-day running of the business.
In his written verdict, Employment Judge David Perry said: “I am of the view that Mr Johal had little grasp of what is required of him as a principal, indeed he admitted as much.”
GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent said the case provided clear evidence to support re-examination and revision of current regulations.
“In this case, the company whose licence we revoked did nothing but seek to delay the appeal hearing thus allowing them to continue to trade and make money,” he said.
“At court they offered no explanation or evidence in defence of their actions. It was a perfect example of how the current appeals process can be abused.
“That‟s why we need to take a long, hard look at our appeals system and investigate how the GLA might be permitted to recover costs from those who exploit the system for profit.”
During an inspection by the GLA, penalty points are accrued on a licence when any of the prescribed licensing standards are breached.
Breaches of critical standards result in 30 points, while eight points are imposed for non-critical standard breaches.
A licence is revoked for one critical standard breach – or when an accumulative total of 30 points is reached.
Lloyds Management was found to have failed 14 standards in total – seven critical and seven non-critical. The resulting total of 266 points is the highest score the GLA has ever recorded on an inspection.
The GLA was founded and exists to prevent worker exploitation, protect vulnerable people and tackle unlicensed and unlawful activity.
The judge pointed out that Mr Johal had breached at least three non-critical and one critical standard relating to the health and safety of workers.
“I am thus concerned for the health and safety of the workers he engages and accordingly I determine that the licence should be revoked,” he added.
The full appeal decision can be viewed here.
Press release issued by GLA Communications and Information Officer Paul Fearn. 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) to agriculture, horticulture, food processing and packaging, forestry and shellfish gathering.
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.
6. Nearly 1,200 labour providers are licensed by the GLA.