Action on gangmasters will protect workers, says Minister – Fishupdate.com

Action on gangmasters will protect workers, says Minister Published:  13 March, 2006

UP to 600,000 workers will be protected from exploitation by rogue

employers with the introduction of gangmaster licensing,UK rural affairs Ministry Defra announced today.

Licences must be held by anyone supplying labourers to work in

agriculture or food processing and packaging.

Defra Minister Jim Knight said: “We are acting to protect everyone

involved in picking, processing, preparing or packing produce if they

are supplied by gangmasters. We consulted with industry, employers

and unions to come up with what we are certain is the best solution.

“Of course, many gangmasters run safe and legitimate businesses but

it’s imperative that we do everything we can to weed out the rogues

among them. By introducing a sensible and robust system of

licensing, to be administered by the Gangmaster Licensing Authority,

we can do that. It will become an offence for a gangmaster to operate

without a licence.

“We are also planning to review the system after one year to ensure

it is working effectively. We are especially keen to ensure it

doesn’t become an excessive burden for small businesses. But we know

that genuine labour providers want us to outlaw the bad operators who

bring their industry into disrepute.”

Licences will not be needed by those supplying labour to retailers,

caterers or wholesalers. Also excluded are the short-term loans of

workers between farms, supply of individual specialist farm workers

and the supply of labour to process non-farm products which include

an agricultural component (such as cosmetics).

Mr Knight also announced to Parliament regulations for an appeals

procedure which can be followed by gangmasters who are refused a

licence or have their licence withdrawn.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority also set out today the conditions

attached to a licence and the fees to be charged.

Paul Whitehouse, Chairman of the GLA, said: “The GLA is determined to

make a difference. We shall help bona fide labour providers stay

legal by driving out those who undercut them by exploiting workers,

by mistreating them and exploit the public by not paying their taxes.

We shall open for applications on 6th April but meanwhile don’t

hesitate to contact us at www.gla.gov.uk or 0845 602 5020.”

Applications for most licences can be made from April 6th.