Nine licensed gangmasters have been found to be violating standards imposed by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The gangmasters were supplying hundreds of mainly Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Bulgarian workers to pick daffodils and vegetables in Cornwall. During a multi-agency operation, officers unearthed evidence of the violated standards and have since been carrying out further investigations. Officers found:
- One gangmaster was subcontracting workers from a number of unlicensed gangmasters.
- Workers employed by one labour provider had not been paid for three weeks.
- A weekly £10 ‘administration fee’ charged to workers reduced pay below national minimum wage levels.
- Agricultural minimum wage was not paid.
- A daily £12 transport charge per worker was deducted for a three-mile journey
- Excessive accommodation charges.
- Personal protective equipment had to be purchased by the workers.
- Faulty minibuses used to transport workers including a faulty tyre, faulty handbrake and a dangerously loose battery.
- The drivers of minibuses did not have the correct licences to transport others (D licence and PSV licence).
Chairman of the GLA, Paul Whitehouse, said:
“The GLA is intent on cracking down on illegal work practice to protect workers from exploitation. Following this recent phase of our on-going enforcement operations, licences will be revoked, the question is how many. We will know more as soon as we have finalised our investigations work. Labour providers who continue to ignore the rights of workers and exploit the vulnerable should be in no doubt that we will catch them through our unannounced raids and other enforcement activities. Where we find abuses we will apply the maximum sanctions. We will not stand for worker exploitation and we will stamp it out.”
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